Joanne Hines knew Sarnia was a giving community.
But after a year at the helm of the local “100 Women Who Care” chapter, Hines says this community’s generosity has blown her away.
“You feel really good when you are part of something that you see is making such a huge impact,” said Hines, who launched the chapter last year, for like-minded women who want to give back to the community but don’t necessarily have the extra time. Since then, the group has handed over more than $35,000 to local charities.
“I am really excited that this has grown as big as it has in such a short period of time.”
The goal of 100 Women Who Care, a growing trend in community activism, is to recruit 100 or more women, who meet four times a year, each writing a cheque for $100. Members nominate a charity of choice, with three names drawn at each meeting — those charities then present their cases, and the entire group votes on where the money will go.
“The overwhelming shock and gratitude from every single one of these charitable groups has been amazing,” said Hines. “Even for them just to get picked to come and educate our members on their charity — the visibility is great.”
The inaugural meeting held in November 2015 led to more than $7,000 going to the Habitat for Humanity Sarnia-Lambton Women’s Build — with which many chapter members participated.
Last January, they awarded $9,100 to the volunteer-driven Community Concerns for the Medically Fragile.
“We actually had enough money for them to completely renovate their respite room,” said Hines. “And it was really just four walls that had nothing but a bed; now they have curtains, furniture, and they were able to put a wheelchair lift in there.”
In April, $9,000 was awarded to the R-Lounge at Sarnia-Lambton Rebound, a safe, inclusive space for area youth to meet after school.
“Their biggest expense is feeding these kids — they cook full meals for them,” said Hines. “They have kids coming from all over Sarnia; a lot of these kids go out of their way to get there, so it’s really neat.”
At the chapter’s June meeting, members heard from Life’s Seasons, a little known centre that provides care and support for those experiencing trauma, abuse, grief, and other challenges.
“The unfortunate part is that it’s costly,” said Hines, pointing to the chapter’s $10,000 donation, that will go towards supporting people who can’t afford the service.
This month, St. Joseph’s Hospice was the chosen recipient — specifically the Caring Hearts for Children Program, for children and teens facing their own death, or the death of a loved one.
“There were 80 out of 100 members that showed up to the meeting — the number of people coming, participating and voting on which charity to receive the money is great,” said Hines.
“And it’s huge for these groups. So often they’re doing fundraisers or getting donations; they work so hard all the time — there’s so many charities in the area, and every one of them, in some way, is competing against each other for money.”
The next meeting is Wednesday, Jan. 18 at the Holiday Inn, Point Edward. More information can be found at 100whocaresarnia.com.
With little money for advertising, Hines is hoping word of mouth will help spread the word to even more local women.
“Sarnia is such a generous community, and it’s all about keeping that momentum going.” said Hines. “That’s really what we need to do.”