Walking is one of my favorite activities. Walking allows you to experience places in a more thorough way than if you travel along cooped up in a metal box. You can tell a lot about your environment when you walk – you experience the topo-graphy, the climate, the smells, the industry, or lack thereof. You use all your senses versus just watching the world spin by at 100 km/hr.
Walking can even give you a feel for the people that make up a place. When I walk across the Menesetung Bridge in Goderich (if I can take my eyes away from the amazing views), I enjoy reading the name plates of all the people who contributed to make the bridge restoration possible. Those people cared about contributing to something bigger than themselves; to a cause that was not about business, or their own bottom line, or return on investment. The names on those plates represent families, individuals, businesses long gone and those still thriving, as well as memories. They serve as a reminder of what makes communities unique and attractive – the intangible things like caring about restoring an old bridge, whose only purpose is to provide a place for people to get out in the fresh air, think about nature, history, and the people who came before.
Contributing to our local communities, whether through donations of time or money, provides the ultimate way in which to prove that we care about something. It is easy to find worthy causes – the hard part comes in deciding where to contribute! There are so many worthy causes in our communities in need of support, especially as government funding dwindles. We can become tired of being asked for donations.
However, a new movement has sprung up across the country. I’m not sure who had the original idea, or even where the first meeting was held, but somewhere around 2015 someone started a “100 People Who Care” group and the idea has really caught on. The first gathering of such a community-minded group in Huron County was held in the meeting room of the Huron County Museum in Goderich in the spring of 2017. The group adopted the name “100 Women Who Care”, following the example of numerous other such groups across the continent.
The Huron County group meets four times a year. Each meeting includes learning about one to three local not-for-profit organizations, voting to support one of them, and writing a cheque for $100 to the organization that received the majority vote. The meetings take one hour. No one has to bake anything, request funds from family members or friends, take pledges, or donate items. The math is simple: If 100 people each make a $100 donation, the local community work receives $10,000.
These groups are attractive because they get right to the point. No one is in the middle making a bunch of profit while kids traipse door to door selling stuff no one really wants so they can keep a few pennies for their cause. No one is watching while their hard work is auctioned off at a fraction of what it is worth. No one has to guilt family, friends, and co-workers into chipping in yet again for another worthwhile cause. All the money goes directly to the chosen charity – no money is skimmed off for administration, insurance, or contributions to a higher level of the organization.
The group is connected with other “100 Women/People Who Care” in name and meeting structure only. There is no financial or organizational commitment to a higher governing body. The group collects the money and immediately hands it over to the recipient. Cheques are made out to the recipient, not 100 Women/People. Tax receipts are issued by the recipients.
As valuable as being present at the short and informative meetings is, people with other life commitments can still be involved. Members can either send in their donation with another member, or get it to Deb Shelley (preferably prior to the meeting) to be included in the group donation.
With a current membership of around 40 people, the Huron County group decided during the last meeting of 2019, that it was time to become “100 People Who Care”, 'to better reflect their welcoming and inclusive mindset. The group also agreed that it was time to consider seeking out other meeting venues, reflecting once again the desire to be inclusive and welcoming to folks throughout the county.
The Alzheimer’s Society, Huron County Food Bank Distribution Centre, Women’s Shelter and Second Stage Housing, and Huron Hospice have all received funding through the group. They have also helped families purchase safety tracking devices for loved ones at risk of wandering and provided funds to meet the needs of high school students seeking a place of safety and friendship at a drop-in centre.
One of the great things about the group is that it gives participants a way to learn about the astounding, life-improving work that is being done in Huron County by so many people. This also provides a way to discover how to become more involved as volunteers, all of which makes a stronger, more resilient community.
The first meeting of 2020 will be held on Thursday, April 16th at the OMAFRA building at 100 Don Street in Clinton. Anyone seeking more information is welcome to find them on Facebook, call or text Deb Shelley at 519.270.9146, or email Deb at firstname.lastname@example.org. ◊