BY HALEY EBLIN
Leafing through an Albion alumni news magazine, Lori Hawkins was struck with an idea. At her alma mater, there was a group of women collaborating to support charities and together they were making a considerable impact.
Hawkins thought that if a group of women in the tiny town of Albion could raise so much money for good causes, then a group of women in the much larger Downriver area could easily do the same. Hawkins started doing research, eager to get involved with the organization. She found out that there were chapters of the “100 Who Care” group throughout Michigan but none close to home.
Thus, the Downriver chapter of 100 Women Who Care was created. The concept of the group is simple. The members meet on a Monday night three times a year, vote on a local charity to support, and then each writes a $100 check to the cause. Raising awareness and getting women involved would be the hardest part. Despite this, the women raised $1,700 at their first meeting back in February 2016 for Vista Maria, a Dearborn Heights-based organization that provides housing for girls who fall outside of the foster system.
At their next meeting in May 2016, the women raised $1,600 for ACTS, an after-school program in Detroit. After that meeting, the word spread and membership and donations increased
exponentially. At their last meeting of 2016, the women raised $2,200 to start the Beds 4 Babes
project under the charity Mimi’s Mission. The founder of Mimi’s Mission, Lisa Vilella, ended up joining the group after witnessing the impact of 100 Women Who Care firsthand.
“Without them, we wouldn’t have been able to start the Beds 4 Babes program for a few years. It was a truly a catalyst,” Vilella said.
Many of the charities selected share similar stories. The women try to pick local charities if possible. They often hear two or three charities presented at each meeting.
“They’re all great causes and the votes are often very close,” Hawkins said. “Ultimately, there are no losers. Many of the smaller organizations gain exposure and some women even end up donating to an additional charity from the night.”
As for 2017, the women have raised a collective $8,000 in just two meetings. In February, they gave $3,500 to Grosse Ile’s Bottom’s Up Diaper Bank and then in May they gave $4,500 to Rudy’s Sock Drive and No Bully Zone. The group’s next meeting will be held Sept. 25 at the ROC wine bar in Flat Rock. The group welcomes all women to come out and see what the 100 Women Who Care organization is about. The meetings are short, lasting no more than an hour and a half.
“I’m busy. I run my own business and a foundation and I still find the time. You’re only as good as you give,” Vilella said.
Hawkins started with the simple idea of bringing women together to make a bigger impact. The group went from a concept on paper to a 37-member organization that has
raised a grand total of $13,500 in just over a year.
“This is an amazing group where through small donations we make a huge impact. In the next year, I see us spreading, spreading, spreading,” said Sue Robach, one of the founding members.