Ten local women are developing a philanthropic group that will hold its first event Thursday evening at the Hoquiam Elks Club.
100+ Harbor Women Who Care is not a nonprofit organization itself, but rather a group of women who want to boost local charities, says co-founder Maryann Welch. The idea is that 100 women with $100 each can make a $10,000 difference in one night.
The concept began in Michigan and has spread into about 900 communities around the world. Welch observed a launch in Everett and was inspired to bring the idea here.
Here’s how it works: Twice a year, a gathering is held for members (and anyone else who’s interested) who will each bring $100 to donate to a worthy nonprofit that operates on the Harbor. They will hear short presentations by three local 501(c)3 organizations, then vote on which one will receive the entire pot of money on the spot.
“Grays Harbor is such a philanthropic and giving community, it just made sense,” said local co-founder Jessica Hoover, senior program officer at the Grays Harbor Community Foundation.
Welch, Hoover and Donnajeanne Williams of Harbor High started talking about it in August and brought in other “women who can get things done” over the ensuing weeks to organize the inaugural event.
The other core team members are Molly Bold of WEfish, online psychology professor Martha George, retiree Diana Grigsby, Patricia Oleachea of Windermere, Franzine Potts of YMCA of Grays Harbor, Alissa Shay of the Satsop Business Park and Dori Unterseher of Grays Harbor Community Hospital.
“One thing I like about this group is that it’s different generations,” said Welch. “I think we all have the same intention, but a little different way of going about it. And that makes it fun!”
Of course, there are no guarantees of how many donors will attend any given event; but the Harbor’s 10 core team members have high hopes.
“We’re hoping 200 people will show up for this first one,” said Hoover.
They’ve invited three local organizations to present at this week’s event, but they won’t disclose which ones. “We want it to be a surprise for everybody who attends, just so you can get there and hear the stories firsthand from them,” said Hoover.
Nonprofit invitees to the second event will be suggested by the women participating in the first one. Three nominees will be drawn randomly and vetted by the core team.
To qualify, organizations must have 501(c)3 status and serve Grays Harbor residents. Groups that have been operating for at least three years are preferred.
Welch emphasizes that attendees will give their donations directly to the winning nonprofit at the end of each event; her group will not receive and then disburse the funds. “We’re just a conduit,” she said.
Only one organization will walk away with the dollars at any given event, but all three will get the opportunity to tell their story to a room full of charity-minded women, said Hoover.
“Maybe they have a cool project going on, and you want to volunteer. Or maybe next time you get their direct-mail piece, you’ll be inspired to send a $25 check,” she said. “It’s just the notion of knowledge being power.”
Anyone interested in observing is welcome at Thursday’s event; donations are not required. But only those who ante up will be able to vote on the evening’s beneficiary.
And if you don’t have a spare hundred lying around but would like to donate a lesser amount, you can still participate: Any pair or group of women who donate a total of $100 will be allowed a single vote.
The inaugural event will begin at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Hoquiam Elks Club, 624 K St. Checks and cash will be accepted.
For a history and more information about the worldwide organization, visit 100whocarealliance.org. To inquire about this local group, email Welch at firstname.lastname@example.org.