100 Women Who Care: Commitment to causes

100 Women Who Care: Commitment to causes

I joined a fabulous group of women recently 100+ Women Who Care Southern Maine.

The concept behind the group is fairly straightforward. Four times a year, we meet and each of us writes a $50 check to a local charity or nonprofit (one we have voted on).

All members are eligible to nominate an organization they believe is worthy of receiving the group’s donations. At the quarterly meetings, the names are put into a box and three are chosen at random. The members who made those nominations each get 5 minutes to make their case for support, followed by a short question-and-answer period.

The group was founded by Deb Bergeron, a certified personal and professional coach who runs the business Ocean of Possibilities. If you know Deb, you know that she has an abundant heart and spirit. She decided to start a 100 Women Who Care chapter in Maine after learning of many others across the country.

“When I first learned of 100 Women Who Care, I was inspired by the simplicity and elegance of the concept,” she says. “Knowing how difficult it is for local nonprofits to raise the funds required to carry on their work, and how easily even the best volunteer’s intentions can be thwarted by today’s busy schedules, 100 Women Who Care seemed to be the perfect solution. I decided to organize a chapter of 100 Women Who Care in Southern Maine so that we can have a transformative impact here in our own backyard.”

Eighty women attended the inaugural meeting in November at the Woodfords Club in Portland. We schmoozed and ate hors d’oeuvres and then got down to business.

The three names pulled out of the box were The Root Cellar, Simple Gifts and the American Heart Association. The nominators gave their presentations and we all cast our votes (on paper). Each presenter did a great job, especially considering none knew until moments before that she’d be speaking.

And the winner was – Simple Gifts.

Simple Gifts is a volunteer Maine-based organization that assists people who are in the hospital or experiencing a medical crisis. It helps by providing gas and grocery cards, gift certificates and other kinds of limited financial support. Referrals usually come from hospital social workers, medical providers, churches and community organizations, says the organization’s president, Mary Irace.

The gifts go directly to the patient or visiting loved ones and highest priority is given to people who are hospitalized far away from home. In her thank you note to members of 100+ Women Who Care, Mary gave examples of people Simple Gifts had helped in 2014.

A woman at Cary Medical Center in Caribou received $175 in gas cards to go for cancer treatments at EMMC in Bangor.

A retired veteran was critically ill and his wife was struggling with gas money and rides to the hospital to be by his side. Twice, Simple Gifts gave the gas cards to make the visits possible.

The grand total of our contributions to Simple Gifts?

On the 100+ Women Who Care Southern Maine Facebook page, Deb Bergeron posted: “95 checks (80 from women at the meeting and 15 that were mailed in) = $4,525 to Simple Gifts! WOO-HOO! Congratulations, Mary Irace for the great work you do in our community! And a heartfelt thank you to the amazing women who made this happen.”

My guess is there are several amazing women reading this who also want to make something happen.

To join 100+ Women Who Care Southern Maine, go to www.100womenwhocaresouthernmaine.com and fill out membership and nomination forms, or contact Deb Bergeron by email at deb100women@gmail.com, or phone at 797-9007. I guarantee she will be wicked excited to hear from you. We all will. ?

Mary Irace, left, president of Simple Gifts, and Deb Bergeron, founder of 100+ Women Who Care Southern Maine. Photo courtesy of Deb Bergeron

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