100 Women Who Care in Potomac

100 Women Who Care in Potomac

In Montgomery County, approximately 1,200 public nonprofits and more than 400 health nonprofits help county residents who need help. They provide food, clothing and shelter, services for families with children, troubled teens or older adults, access to after-school activities, training for therapy animals and funds for overcrowded animal shelters. All rely on the generosity of donors to accomplish their goals. 

Where there is so much need, individuals who want to pitch in to help their neighbors can find it hard to know where to begin. For sure, they can’t help them all. 

Enter 100 Women Who Care – a group of women in Lower Montgomery County who share their resources to make a healthy dent in the difficulties they see around them. They are one of more than 350 chapters throughout the country whose members reach out to nonprofits with gifts of cash to help them reach their goals.

Four times a year, the group gathers to hear compelling pitches for support from three non-profits in the county. The non profits must explain how the monetary support will be used. The members weigh and consider what they have heard and make the difficult choice to support one of the organizations. Then, each woman writes a check for at least $100 to send off to that organization, realizing a collective gift that ranges from $8,000 to $9,000. 

Often, the members also contribute to the other two presenting non-profits, so even those who weren’t chosen benefit from generosity triggered by their presentation. In one case, a contribution of $10,000 was made to support the purchase of much-needed equipment for one of the presenters. 

Since its inception in 2016, Lower Montgomery 100 Women Who Care has delivered over $160,000 to 21 nonprofits. Often the gift targets a specific project that a nonprofit is focusing on.

Carin Levine, chief operating officer of the non-profit Active Minds, describes how the 100 Women Who Care contribution in 2020 supercharged an initiative to expand their reach from young people on college campuses to kids in high school. Active Minds’ mission, to change the conversation about mental health, is driven by the belief that no one should struggle alone. Empowering young adults to speak openly about mental health can reduce stigma, encourage help-seeking, and prevent suicides.

“That contribution jump started our project,” says Levine. “We were developing a new program to expand our reach from the 600 Active Minds chapters on college campuses to also impact high schoolers. Part of the plan included a video, which is an expensive undertaking. Their contribution was welcome not only because of its financial impact but also because it energized the campaign to raise the remaining funding we needed.”

The most recent news from Active Minds is that the high school program and the video, which stresses helpful versus not-helpful language to use when trying to comfort a classmate in emotional distress, has reached students in 1,000 schools. That is the kind of success story that motivates the 100 Women Who Care chapter to focus on the other charities in the region.

“Our goal, of course, is to grow from the 80 members we currently have to 100 members and then to 200 members,” says WWC President Linda Mathuran. “It is a simple concept that has profound impact. You don’t have to be a zillionaire to get involved in philanthropy. When the awardee shares with us how the money was used, it is an immediate and satisfying result, all powered by generosity.”

Lower Montgomery 100 Women Who Care will hold its next meeting on March 16 at 7:30 P.M.  New members are welcome to attend. To RSVP or to learn more about 100 Women Who Care, contact Linda Mathuran through email at wwcmontgomery@gmail.com. To learn more about the group, visit lowermocowwc.com.