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100+ Women Who Care

We Care, We Give, We Make a Difference

I had the privilege of chatting with Jan Ruehle and Sarah Chichester recently (two of the friendliest ladies on the lake, I am convinced!) about 100 Women Who Care. Jan is the founder of our local chapter here at SML, and Sarah is a member of the Steering Committee.

The 100 Women Who Care Alliance is actually a national “Giving Circle” that was formed in 2006 by a nurse in Michigan. Jan initially heard about it from her sister who decided to get a group going in her own city. Being newly retired to the lake, it seemed like a great way for Jan to learn about all of the many non-profits that serve the three surrounding counties: Bedford, Franklin, and Pittsylvania, which is the geographical area that the WWC - SML chapter supports. It would allow her to start literally investing in her new hometown, and maybe even meet some potential friends along the way! Apparently, she wasn't the only one who thought it was a good idea, because 75 women showed up to the very first informational meeting she held in 2016, and the group has been going strong ever since.

So, what does the club do?

Three times a year: January, September, and May, they hold an “Impact Meeting”. Each meeting is an hour and a half long. The first part is a relaxed social catch-up, and then it's time to get down to business. Members nominate their charity (or non-profit) of choice via blind ballot. Three are picked out of a hat, and the nominators are then given the floor to talk about the work their organization is doing for the community and why they could use the support. Following a brief Q+A session surrounding the charities being considered, the ladies then cast their vote for the nominee they find most deserving. The charity with the highest count, wins!

Immediately after the selection, each member writes a check directly to the winning non-profit for $100. In the seven years of the SML club's existence, over $300,000 has been donated to the hard-working folks spreading tangible goodness right here among us. Once a charity has been a recipient of this giving circle, they cannot be nominated again for three years.

What makes 100 Women Who Care different from other charitable organizations is that it's not a non-profit (as in, the club collects no operational money at all) and membership requires very low physical participation. It's perfect for those who aren't able to volunteer their time or talents for various reasons, but still want to be involved in making a collective difference in their community. It's a legacy that Jan and Sarah are so excited to be a part of! A member commitment is for one year, and a total of $300 to be collected across the three Impact Meetings. If you're unable to attend one of the meetings, you can also just send in your check - which makes this a feasible club to join even if you're not a full-timer here.

With their roll standing at 167 women encompassing all ages and walks of life, they welcome new potential members to come and check out one of the Impact Meetings as a guest to see if this is something they might like to be a part of! The next one is scheduled for January 9th, 1:00pm, at Trinity Ecumenical Parish.

For more information about this local philanthropic giving circle, check them out on Facebook via the button below, or email:


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