Local groups continue to make community impact

In 2015 two groups formed to create a big impact in the community through quick, easy fundraising in the form of the 100 Women Who Care and 100 Men Red Deer groups.

The purpose of the groups has been to make a big impact through four hour-long sessions occurring every three months, where members each bring a cheque for $100 to be designated to a chosen organization. This year, many groups benefited from the fundraisers.

100 Women Who Care donated to Safe Harbour Society, Eastview Middle School and the Red Deer Hospice Society. Their most recent donation was sent to the Central Alberta Immigrant Women’s Association (CAIWA). So far, the group has raised over $80,000 for local charities, blowing their original $40,000 goal out of the water.

“Cindy (Jefferies) and I are still kind of blown away by the response from the women of the community,” said Co-Founder Susan Knopp.

She said they were amazed at the amount of women who came to the first meeting and who continue to remain committed to the cause. “When we started this, it was Cindy and I sitting around saying, ‘We know lots of women in the community, and I’m sure between the two of us we could get 100 women’ but it just took off! We ran out of chairs, we didn’t have enough ballots. It was crazy, but a lot of fun. Since then, it’s been going great. We’re thrilled that women are embracing the simplicity of it,” Knopp said.

For the latest meeting, the United Way and Boys and Girls Club of Red Deer and District were also nominated to receive the donations. Knopp said she believes the timeliness of Canada’s acceptance of 25,000 new refugees might have added to the group’s decision to donate to CAIWA.

“Alberta and Canada are always accepting refugees, but it’s particularly poignant right now when we are expecting so many people to come to our country from Syria. I can’t speak for sure for anyone, but I’m sure that played into the voting process,” she said.

She added both the United Way and Boys and Girls Club are also deserving organizations but the stars aligned for CAIWA this time.

The 100 Women Who Care group is actually closer to 230 members. Knopp said she has been impressed by the groups’ dedication throughout the year.

Meanwhile, 100 Men Red Deer has also made extraordinary donations in the last year, even though the group has struggled a little bit more to maintain the number of committed attendees.

The men of the organization came together to support the Red Deer Food Bank Society, the Central Alberta Aids Network Society (CAANS) and the Canadian National Institute of the Blind (CNIB). With their most recent meeting, however, things took a more personalized turn and $10,000 was donated to a local family in need.

Derry Wang and his family were the recipients of the most recent donation. A former teacher of Wang’s nominated the family after learning his student had been hit by an alleged drunk driver while Wang was on his bike. The young man was in a coma until recently this fall, and the incident caused the family to endure financial and emotional stress.

Jeff Rock, a member of 100 Men Red Deer, spoke about the decision to donate to a private recipient rather than a charitable organization.

“His family has struggled a lot financially, and even though there is a government program to provide some support, they’re going to need to build ramps, and pay for care, and they won’t be able to work in the same way. This is going to have huge permanent financial impacts for them,” Rock said.

“Ultimately, we voted to support Wang and his family. Traditionally, what we do is send the cheques directly to the family, and then the tax receipts from the charities go out, but this time they will go to the family. I think what made the difference this time was the personal nature.”

Rock said the entire point of the group is to develop relationships amongst members and donation recipients. He said it’s important to recognize the collective impact of the group and how it affects the members and recipients of donations.

“The whole point of 100 Men is to make a collective impact that is greater than the sum of its parts. 100 Men giving $100 to a charity is going to go places, but us giving that collective donation to a specific charity is going to make an impact that will go further.”

Both the local 100 Women and 100 Men groups have grown and changed over the last year. Each group will continue to carry on into 2016 and are always accepting dedicated participants.

The next 100 Women Who Care meeting will take place on Jan. 18th with the next 100 Men Who Care meeting takes place on March 7th. Citizens are encouraged to join either solo or with a group of friends and take part in the organizations that promote ‘big impact with small efforts’. Information is available on facebook for both groups, as well as the web sites – 100womenreddeer.ca and 100menreddeer.com.

kmendonsa@reddeerexpress.com