While there is no estimating the power of one, multiplying that by 100 can make an even bigger difference. And that’s just what the Naperville chapter of 100 Women Who Care in Naperville is doing.
Sally Wiarda started the DuPage County Chapter in 2007, an offshoot of a group that a family member began in Michigan that found cribs for local organizations.
In 2009, Naperville’s Palma Aikins created the Naperville chapter because it was difficult for her to make the quarterly evening meetings in Carol Stream. Today five chapters exist in the county.
The concept of the organization is that by banding together a group of women, they can make a more significant difference with their donations combined than given separately.
“It’s to empower women to be part of something bigger than themselves,” Wiarda said. “Combining the money together for $10,000 really does have an impact.”
To join, each women agrees to commit for one year and give $100 quarterly. She is not required to attend the meetings and may send her check with a friend as a proxy vote.
At the quarterly meetings, the women are encouraged to put in the hat the name of an organization they have in mind. It must be a nonprofit and serve locally. It also cannot be part of a larger organization that works nationally. Three names are drawn, and those women must give a heartfelt five-minute presentation, no PowerPoint, and answer any questions. Members then vote which organization will receive the funds.
“There is not really a loser,” Wiarda added. “Everyone leaves with more information about people who are struggling.”
And it was just that, learning about different groups, that drew Aikins to join.
“I went a couple of times, but it was so hard to get to Carol Stream at 7 (p.m.) during rush hour from south Naperville,” Aikins said.
She planned to withdraw from the chapter, but Wiarda had another idea. She suggested Aikins start a chapter in Naperville instead.
Since 2009, the group has had 21 meetings and has 116 members. Aikins is always seeking new women for the group because people move away or withdraw for other reasons. Just because it’s 100 Women Who Care doesn’t mean it’s limited to 100 women either.
The group meets 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. the third Tuesday of February, May, August and November at Suparossa Italian Dining, 6310 S. Route 53, Woodridge.
“It’s the coolest thing ever to feel like we’ve tapped into a vein of goodness in our community,” Aikins said. “We’re taking care of people in our community.”
Today, more than 100 chapters exist in the U.S. along with at least one chapter for men and chapters in Canada and Mexico.
The Western DuPage Special Recreation Association was the latest recipient for the DuPage County chapter’s donation. WDSRA received more than $10,000 to fund travel for its nationally ranked wheelchair basketball team.
Because it’s such a specialized group of junior high and high school students, they have to travel the nation seeking teams to play. The adaptive sports program must find funds to pay for their travel, coaching and equipment. It takes about $15,000 each year to make ends meet for the team.
“This means we can do more than we originally hoped for them,” said Nancy Miner, WDSRA’s superintendent of recreation. “It’s soft money we weren’t counting on and will take us into next year.”
It also means the athletes, some of who hope to play college wheelchair basketball on scholarships, won’t have to return to the same groups and resources seeking funds.
And for the members of 100 Women Who Care, locally and nationwide, they have a chance to be part of something larger than themselves by banding together to make more than a ripple in the pond.