By Paul Grondahl
Times Union, Albany, N.Y.
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Here are the basic guidelines of the Albany chapter of “100 Women Who Care Alliance” It’s pretty straightforward… 1) four one-hour meetings a year 2) three charities are pitched by members at each meeting 3)they choose one 4) members give a $100 check four times a year.
These busy women have a strong desire to donate to charity, as long as it’s quick and hassle-free.
Enter the Albany chapter of 100 Women Who Care Alliance.
They promise philanthropy on a tight deadline.
Observing their recent meeting, which clocked in at one hour, was a bit like watching speed dating for charities.
It’s also been called “collective philanthropy” and spawned a Twitter hashtag #ThePowerof100.
Here are the basic rules: Four one-hour meetings a year. Three charities are pitched by members at each meeting. They choose one. Members give a $100 check four times a year.
“The beauty of it is that it’s so simple,” said Jeri Bosman, of Delmar, one of the founders of the local chapter.
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She heard about 100 Women Who Care while visiting a friend in South Carolina and decided to transport the concept north.
The retired registered nurse recruited two women friends from Delmar who were in the same book club: Peg Donovan and Sandra Alinger, both retired schoolteachers.
They spread the word around town, got some guidance from the national organization and held their inaugural meeting in May. To their astonishment, 73 women showed up and each gave a $100 check.
They presented a $7,300 donation to the charity chosen, the Donna Crandall Foundation, which supports patients and families being treated for cystic fibrosis at Albany Medical Center.
“It’s the power of women,” Bosman said. “We know how to get things done.”
The women range in age from their 30s to their 70s. Most said they joined the new group because of its simplicity and no-pressure style.
“Women told us they were so happy after the first meeting because they were tired of being solicited all the time and this was an easy way to do some good,” Donovan said.
Albany is the newest of more than 350 chapters nationwide, including four others across New York, from Buffalo to New York City. The next closest is in Otsego County.
The Albany group launched a Facebook page (100 Women Who Care Albany) and a website (www.100wwcalbany.org). They spread the word.
For the second meeting, on Aug. 11, they added more than two dozen members, for a total of 103 women. Despite its name, they will continue to accept new members well beyond 100.
“The response has been unbelievable,” Bosman said. “I’m a crier and I cried at the end of our first meeting.”
New members who came to last week’s meeting said they heard about the group from friends or around town. One woman said she got interested after she struck up a conversation with a woman working out on a stationary bike next to hers at a local YMCA.
“I decided to join a good cause,” said Corrine Falope, who heard about the group in a doctor’s office waiting room when she chatted with a woman as she knitted.
“I want to support local charities and I really like the idea that it’s only an hour meeting,” Liz Salerni said.
The women meet in the Delmar Reformed Church. Along with the three pitches, they heard an update from the previous meeting’s recipient, Lisa Cheney, vice president of the Crandall Foundation. The charity is named for her sister-in-law, Donna Crandall, who died of cystic fibrosis at age 41 in 1999. Her five siblings, family members and friends have raised more than $2 million in the past two years.
“We raised it $10 at a time,” Cheney said. “We’re so grateful for the $7,300 contribution from 100 Women Who Care of Albany. It will be used for our room renovation project.”
The not-for-profit foundation will spend $140,000 to renovate two rooms for cystic fibrosis patients at Albany Medical Center, turning them into private spaces with their own bathroom and kitchenette.
Cystic fibrosis is a progressive, genetic disease that causes persistent lung infections and limits the ability to breathe over time. Patients often require extended hospitalizations.
The renovated rooms are known as “Dawn’s rooms,” in honor of Dawn McGuinness, who died of the disease April 30.
“This is a great opportunity for women to make a difference by coming together for charity,” said member Jaclyn Brilling.
“It’s a great idea. I like the direct connection between these women and nonprofits,” said Mary Judd, of Delmar, who runs Songwriting With: Soldiers. The charity organizes music retreats that pair professional songwriters with veterans and military personnel.
At the Aug. 11 meeting, after listening to members make brief pitches on three local charities — The Legal Project, St. Anne’s Institute and the Friendship Circle — the members voted.
The Friendship Circle won. The Albany charity provides programs for special needs children and their families. The charity will receive a check for about $10,000.
“We’re still getting checks mailed in,” Bosman said.
That’s another rule. Even if you miss a meeting, you’re still on the hook for a $100 check.
The 100 Women Who Care was begun in 2006 by Karen Dunigan, former mayor of Jackson, Mich., and a real estate agent. Dunigan died of cancer in 2014 and her sisters, Jane Uhila and Patty Sete, have carried on what she started.
The idea proved so popular it spawned spinoff groups, including 100 Men Who Care, 100 Kids Who Care and 100 People Who Care.
“We’re blown away by how quickly this has taken off here,” Bosman said. “It’s about all of us making a difference.”
The group has begun putting its motto on marketing materials: “A simple concept, a big impact.”
To learn more or to join, go to their website at www.100wwcalbany.org or their Facebook page at 100 Women Who Care Albany.