Th­ese 200 peo­ple are giv­ing a damn

The Hamilton Spectator - - LOCAL - JEFF MAHONEY jma­honey@thes­pec.com 905-526-3306

It’s a mixer of sorts — the car­ers and the damn-givers.

The women and the men. Will they need some ice break­ers so that they’re not wall-flow­er­ing them­selves on op­po­site sides of the room, like girls and boys at mid­dle school dances?

Not likely. Some of the car­ers and damn-givers are al­ready mar­ried to each other.

And no mat­ter which group they be­long to — 100 Women Who Care or 100 Men Who Give a Damn — all who come out to the first-ever joint meet­ing ( June 20) in Hamil­ton are bound by com­mon pur­pose and shared ex­pe­ri­ence: help­ing lo­cal causes.

The 100WWC started first, in 2013. This is how it works, if you’re not fa­mil­iar with the con­cept: There are many “100 women and/or men who care and/or give a damn” groups through­out North Amer­ica. It started in Michi­gan, with women, in 2008.

One hun­dred women/men get to­gether four times a year. They hear three pitches from lo­cal causes (char­i­ties, ser­vice providers, etc.), each pitch made by one of the hun­dred. Then they vote. The win­ning cause gets $100 from each woman/ man — that’s $10,000 a meet­ing, $40,000 a year, to four re­cip­i­ents.

Last year Hamil­ton broth­ers Jeremiah and Nathan Pike de­cided to, well, pro­vide some bass, so to speak, in the cho­rus of giv­ing. I did a story on their fledg­ling ef­forts.

When I caught up with them last month, I couldn’t be more im­pressed. They started vir­tu­ally from scratch and they’re al­ready up to 90 mem­bers, al­most the full com­ple­ment. By the time of the June 20 meet­ing they might hit a hun­dred even ... or more.

“For some of the cou­ples, it could al­most be like a date night,” jokes Nathan, of the joint meet­ing.

When start­ing up 100MWGAD, Jeremiah and Nathan sus­pected that hus­bands, part­ners and other men in the lives of 100WWC mem­bers could be mined as a po­ten­tially rich vein of re­cruit­ment.

They were right, but they were also sur­prised at how strong a re­sponse they got from word of mouth, me­dia cov­er­age and ran­dom con­tact.

“We’d go through our men­tal Rolodex,” says Jeremiah, de­scrib­ing their early ef­forts to drum up mem­bers, “and you’d think this is a no­brainer for such and such a per­son. But then they’re not the ones who showed up at the meet­ing, but in­stead the neigh­bour you just talked to in pass­ing.”

Me­gan Ho­ernke, the founder of 100WWC in Hamil­ton, helped get them started just over a year ago.

“It’s a real ac­com­plish­ment,” what they’ve done, says Me­gan.

And al­ready the two groups are pair­ing up for a dou­ble whammy, so to speak, with four pre­sen­ta­tions, two put forth by each, for a po­ten­tial pay­load of $20,000 for the win­ning cause.

“It is a sort of ex­per­i­ment for us and it will al­low us to judge the in­ter­est in the pos­si­bil­ity of hav­ing an an­nual joint ven­ture,” says Me­gan, of the coed evening.

As far as she knows it’s the first joint meet­ing of 100WWC and 100MWGAD groups.

It prom­ises to be a fun and pro­duc­tive ven­ture. It will mostly fol­low the reg­u­lar for­mat. No Pow­er­Point pre­sen­ta­tions, no ban­ner or fancy gim­micks. Just a straight-up pitch to the mem­ber­ship, fol­lowed by ques­tions and a vote. The whole thing wraps up in an hour.

The ef­fi­ciency of the meet­ings, with their one-hour cap, was one of the virtues that at­tracted Michael Ad­kins to join. He is a Hamil­ton coun­sel­lor/au­thor and as soon as he read about it in the news­pa­per, he looked into it and joined. He has since brought in four or five other mem­bers. “There’s no hus­tle or pad­ding,” he says.

Mem­bers some­times go off to so­cial­ize af­ter the meet­ings. Some mem­bers both of the women’s and men’s groups write out three cheques, giv­ing even to the causes of the los­ing sub­mis­sions.

Some of the char­i­ties that have al­ready ben­e­fited: Mark Preece Fam­ily Home; Un­der the Wil­lows — Lyn­wood Charl­ton Cen­tre; Down Syn­drome As­so­ci­a­tion of Hamil­ton; Food 4 Kids; Hamil­ton Vic­tory Gar­den; Hamil­ton Food Share.

The meet­ing takes place, as all 100WWC and 100MWGAD meet­ings do, at Bay City Mu­sic Hall, at Le­an­der Boat Club, where Arthur Bala­gio kindly do­nates the space.

CATHIE COWARD, THE HAMIL­TON SPEC­TA­TOR

Jeremiah Pike, left, of 100 Men Who Give a Damn, Alex Zac­cheo of Food 4 Kids, and Me­gan Ho­ernke of 100 Women Who Care have al­ready teamed up in a char­ity spon­sor­ship to help feed hun­gry chil­dren in Hamil­ton.

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