Knox County group opens hearts and checkbooks at first meeting
By Natalie Reidford
It’s the speed-dating version of philanthropy.
On July 18, 100 Women Who Care of Knox County had their first meeting in the sanctuary at St. John’s United Church of Christ in Vincennes.
It went like this: Three Knox County nonprofits were chosen to pitch what they would do with a $10,000-plus donation. They spoke to 140 women — one of whom was holding a stopwatch — for 6 minutes, and answered questions for 4 minutes.
The nonprofits left the room, and the women voted on their choice of recipient. Votes were tabulated and the winner was announced. The winning representative gave a short speech of gratitude and collected $100 checks from each woman. Pictures were taken, small talk was made, and everyone went home within the space of 60 minutes.
The philanthropy for busy women
The meeting format of 100 Women Who Care “touches women who are busy,” said Kim Everett, one of the group’s core members. “It’s a one-hour commitment every four months.”
While not affiliated with a national organization, 100 Women Who Care groups have sprouted throughout the country. The groups’ members share a desire to pool together their resources and donate to local organizations they believe are worthy of their funds.
This room is filled with amazing, strong women.— Melissa Haaff
Everett said the idea of starting a 100 Women Who Care group in Knox County took shape when her sister mentioned Terre Haute has such a group. The local group was started by Everett, Rita Wampler, Anne Jacobi and Katelyn Ice. They looked at surrounding counties’ 100 Women groups to see how they were operating, and a core committee of “worker bees” took action.
“It blossomed from there,” said Everett.
The core group met in May and each woman was asked to invite 10-15 women to join. As of the July meeting, the group had more than 175 members.
Everett stressed that 100 Women Who Care is not a closed organization.
“Interested persons are welcome to join,” she said.
For the July meeting, each member nominated a Knox County nonprofit. Three organizations were drawn at random: Knox County Humane Society, Hope’s Voice and United Way of Knox County.
Knox County Humane Society
Kathy Dotson, Knox County Humane Society president, was the first to speak.
“It is an honor to be the first presenter,” she said.
Dotson’s 6-minute presentation educated the audience about the need to spay and neuter neighborhood cats — one cat can beget 420,000 kittens over a period of seven years, she said, and KCHS has focused on a Trap/Neuter/Return program throughout the county for the past 15 years.
Vincennes has a law stating that roaming cats must be spayed or neutered, Dotson explained. KCHS uses the TNR program to spay, neuter, vaccinate and treat neighborhood cats for fleas.
If chosen, the Humane Society would focus the money on education, Dotson said, noting KCHS has no paid employees and donations are the sole source of funding.
“Donors keep us going. It is our only income,” she said.
Eight active volunteers comprise the KCHS staff, and Dotson used her forum as an opportunity to ask for help.
“I’m putting in a plug for volunteers,” she said.
United Way of Knox County
United Way of Knox County executive director Mark Hill shared the organization’s slogan: “People you know, programs you trust, positive impact for all.”
Hill told the audience about UW’s Charity Tracker software system, which tracks donations. The software allows United Way to tabulate how much money agencies received and how the funds were spent.
“The software holds agencies accountable,” Hill said.
Hill touched briefly on some of the many services United Way provides, including tax service to individuals regardless of income, prescription assistance to the under- or uninsured, a homeless taks force, and services for school-age children.
But Hill said giving groups voices about what’s important in Knox County is the most important service they provide.
“More important than anything we do is we listen,” Hill said.
Hill also noted that if they received the donation, United Way would get a matching grant from Eli Lilly to double the amount.
As an organization that assists victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, director Melissa Haaff said Hope’s Voice offers “immediate and sustained support for victims and families.”
The majority of those victims are women.
“The gender-based issue of violence affects one in three women during their lifetimes,” said Haaff, adding that one in three female murder victims is killed by an intimate partner.
While noting that assisting victims may be perceived as “closing the barn door after the cows are out,” Hope’s Voice wants to leverage resources and partnerships to prevent violence in the first place. Resources may include programs to protect against dating violence and online bullying.
Hope’s Voice would use the money, Haaff said, to create safe spaces within the community — for example, a community garden. She explained that safter communities lead to safer homes.
“The Riverwalk is a community response to safe spaces,” Haaff said.
Haaff said Hope’s Voice averages 661 clients per year.
After the presentations
After the vote, it was announced that the recipient of the first donation was Hope’s Voice, with a total of 90 votes. Haaff re-entered the sanctuary and thanked the group.
“This room is filled with amazing, strong women in one group,” Haaff said.
United Way and Knox County Humane Society immediately became eligible for re-nomination. Nominations for the October meeting were collected, drawn and announced: Knox County Commuity Foundation, PACE Community Action Center and, for a reprise, United Way of Knox County. An alternate was also drawn but not announced.
A chance to learn about the nonprofits
The first meeting was a learning experience for everyone.
As attendees listened to the presenters, “the educational aspect became apparent,” Everett said after the meeting. “A person may donate if one of the organizations touched her heart, even if they didn’t win.”
Core group members seemed satisfied with the format of the first meeting.
The plan for the next meeting is to “keep it simple,” said Wampler.
“We will re-evaluate in October and see if anything needs changing, but it worked pretty well tonight,” she said.
How to Join
Giving meetings are at St. John’s United Church of Christ, 606 N. Fifth St., at 6:30 p.m. on the third Thursday of the first month of each quarter.
Oct. 17, 2019
Jan. 16, 2020
April 16, 2020
The group accepts new members throughout the year. Interested women should contact the core committee at 100.Women.Who.Care.Knox.Co.Indiana@gmail.com