These 200 people are giving a damn
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.
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.