From left, Wendy Dutcher, Sarah Pyhala and Kaitlin Vadla speak to members of 100+ Women Who Care at the Triumvirate Theatre in Nikiski, Alaska on Dec. 26, 2019. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)

From left, Wendy Dutcher, Sarah Pyhala and Kaitlin Vadla speak to members of 100+ Women Who Care at the Triumvirate Theatre in Nikiski, Alaska on Dec. 26, 2019. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)

Caring is their calling

Women gather quarterly to raise money for peninsula.

A group of community-minded women on the central peninsula just raised nearly $10,000 for a local nonprofit — and they do it every three months.

Last Thursday, the Soldotna Chapter of 100+ Women Who Care gathered at the Triumvirate Theatre in Nikiski for their quarterly meeting, where members make a pitch for local nonprofits and then vote on which one will get their collective donation.

100+ Women Who Care is part of the 100 Who Care Alliance, a group of chapters around the world that consist of men, women and kids who pool individual resources for collective action. There are currently six chapters of 100 Women Who Care in Alaska — Anchorage, Fairbanks, Homer, Kodiak, Soldotna/Kenai and the Matanuska-Susitna Valley. The Kenai/Soldotna Chapter was started in March of 2017 by Tami Murray, who is also the development director of the Kenai Watershed Forum. Murray said that she also helped to start the chapter in Homer and hopes to get all six Alaska chapters together in the future to provide a larger group donation to one organization.

The concept of 100+ Women Who Care is simple: On the last Thursday of each quarter of the year, members gather to hear pitches about three local nonprofits. The pitches are made by the members themselves, and the presenters are chosen by drawing names of members in good standing from a hat at random. If a member is chosen and doesn’t want to make a pitch, she can defer to one of the other members. After the three presentations are heard, the members in attendance cast their votes to decide which nonprofit will receive a donation at the end of the night. Members donate $100 each, and the collective donation currently stands at $9,300 from 93 members.

The first recipient of this collective donation was the Kenai Watershed Forum, but Murray said that donation was smaller than what they give now due to only having about 43 members at the beginning. Other past recipients include Hospice of the Central Peninsula, the Students in Transition program, the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank, Sources of Strength, Casting for Recovery and public radio station KDLL. The organization to last receive the donation — in this case KDLL — hosts the following meeting and provides members with an update on how their contribution was used. In the case of KDLL, news director Jenny Neyman spoke about how the funds were used to pay for KDLL’s new automation system that keeps programming running even when no one is at the station.

Last Thursday, members heard presentations on behalf of the Shimai Toshi Garden Trails, Way Out Women and Cook Inletkeeper’s Community Action Studio. After the votes were tallied, the Community Action Studio was chosen to receive the $9,300 donation for the quarter.

Members are allowed to present for their organization of choice more than once, but once an organization receives the donation it cannot receive it again for another two years. Rhonda McCormick, another one of the founding members, said the group determines this and other rules at their first quarterly meeting in March every year. The group operates without a board of directors, so any changes to the rules are voted on by all the members in attendance.

“Each group can set their own ground rules,” McCormick said. “For our group, one of the other ground rules is that it has to be a peninsula nonprofit where the money will benefit peninsula people.”

Another rule for the Kenai/Soldotna group is that the recipient has to be specifically a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. McCormick said that any woman on the peninsula can be a member as long as they commit to contributing the $100 each quarter.

“Every once in a while someone will come just to see how it works, but they’re not necessarily committed to doing it,” McCormick said. “Anyone can and just watch, if they’re a woman. Men aren’t allowed, normally.”

McCormick said that there are chapters of 100 Men Who Care around the country, but none currently exists on the peninsula.

One of the members, Linda Hutchings, said that she’s been to every one of the meetings since the group started and has also given a pitch for the American Diabetes Association for their Children’s Camp.

“It’s great, you just write your check once a quarter and you’re done,” Hutchings said. “It’s like-minded women across the board and across the spectrum. They’re not just executives, they’re moms, doctors, every walk of life. It’s wonderful to have that opportunity.”

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