Never let it be said that women working together can’t make a difference. A new organization called Chaffee County Women Who Care shows potential to prove that old adage wrong. The first meeting of this new women’s service organization begins at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 9, at the Scout Hut, 210 E. Sackett Ave., Salida.
The organization, which began as 100 Women Who Care in Jackson, Mich., has spread quickly out of the upper Midwest. It’s premise is that many small donations can add up to amounts large enough to allow nonprofits to start new programs, meet crisis needs or purchase equipment.
“I got involved in a similar group that had 260 women as members,” said the lead organizer, Beverly Van Kampen, who recently moved to Salida from western Michigan. “When you’ve got that many women working together, you can get things done. Every quarter for more than nine years, that group of women gathered with a mutual pledge to give $100 per meeting. There, it amounted to $26,000 per meeting to make a difference.”
The group has a simple process. Every member pledges to donate $100 per meeting, or $400 per year. Once a quarter, the group meets to listen to three, 5-minute presentations by various nonprofit organizations, with the criteria being that they need to be working in Chaffee County. Those gathered do a secret ballot to decide which of the three groups will receive the donation, and every member then writes a $100 check to the chosen agency.
Van Kampen is working with a steering committee of women in Salida and Buena Vista to organize the county service group. She says that over her years of involvement in the program in Michigan, she has seen dozens of nonprofits benefit from the streamlined approach to fundraising. “In Michigan, we’ve funded programs in schools and churches and community efforts, helping to launch brand new programs and breathing fresh life into existing programs.”
Van Kampen says there are now hundreds of Women Who Care chapters around the country either fully operational or in development, including several in Denver and Colorado Springs. The effort isn’t necessarily limited to women; men, teens and kids are getting involved as well. Van Kampen made no reference to criteria that will be considered during the selection of the nonprofit recipient for the quarter, other than being located in the county and personal appeal; so it is unclear what standards will be applied, or whether or not consistency will apply quarter to quarter.
“It adds up and it makes a difference,” said Van Kampen. “I think it’s time that Chaffee County women can have the same opportunity to make an impact.”
Van Kampen invites women interested in the service effort show up early the day of the meeting to learn more. Those interested in connecting before then should go to the group’s Facebook page: Chaffee County Women Who Care.