Women Community

(Special to the Tribune)

Members of 100+ Women Who Care of the East Valley include, from left, Debbie Smith, Sheri Tapia, Sandra Franks and Jill Sears.

A Valley charity made up exclusively of women has become big enough to start an East Valley chapter.

As a result, 100+ Women Who Care Valley of the Sun has set an introductory event for potential members at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 8 at The Forum, 2301 S. Stearman Drive, Chandler.

In three years the organization has given birth to chapters in Ahwatukee, Scottsdale and the West Valley.

The organization is a “giving circle” that practices “leveraged philanthropy,” spokeswoman Kim Tarnopolski explained.

Women gather once a quarter to learn about pressing needs in their community, vote on a cause to support and pool individual contributions of $100 “to create a bigger impact on the nonprofit than they could have done individually,” she said.

“Over 350 women around the Valley are participating in this giving circle,” she added. “Despite each of their plates being extremely full, these ladies have a heart for making a difference and a desire to make their community stronger. Put it simply, they are busy women who care.”

Together, they have donated over $225,000 benefiting 28 local charities. Their goal is to donate $500,000 in five years to area nonprofits.

Tarnopolski noted that each quarterly meeting features members who care about the issues and a particular nonprofit that addresses each.

“Members nominate local charities to be considered,” she said. “After a thorough vetting process, the charity goes in the hat for the random draw at each meeting. When the charity is drawn, the member speaks to the mission and needs of the organization. The group hears about three charities per meeting and then the members vote. The charity with the most votes is the recipient of that meeting’s donations.”

Leann Landberg of Chandler said, “We’ve heard from so many women that want to be involved in some way in giving back to their community, yet their time and funds are limited. 100+ Women Who Care is a simple way to make a big impact that requires very little in terms of time and dollar commitment.”

If you go to the meeting, be prepared for a friendly gathering run with the precision of a military marching band.

“It’s an exercise in awesome efficiency,” Tarnopolski said.

While members and guests have up to an hour to socialize, 6:30 p.m. marks the start of a meeting, which moves according to straightforward and exact rules that eliminate backdoor lobbying and favoritism in the group’s selection of a beneficiary.

The first 100+ Women Who Care chapter was started in 2006 by Karen Dunigan, the former mayor of Jackson, Michigan, who organized friends and acquaintances to each give $100 to help an organization buy portable baby cribs for needy new moms.

Tarnopolski was so taken by the concept, which has spread to more than 350 communities across the country, that she attended another Phoenix chapter’s meeting, then called on three friends who each had a special expertise she felt necessary to organize and maintain the group.

They included Jenn Kaye of Scottsdale, a communications expert in branding; Stephanie Millner of Queen Creek, who has a strong business background and experience in the nonprofit world; and Jacqueline Destremps of Tempe, an expert in website development and social media.

Additional information and registration is at 100wwcvalleyofthesun.org/meetings.

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