The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL -

One year ago 52 women were present for the in­au­gu­ral meet­ing of 100 Women Who Care St Lu­cia. Fast for­ward a year and mem­ber­ship has swelled to al­most 140 mem­bers and the or­ga­ni­za­tion has do­nated over $40,000 to lo­cal char­i­ties

Valerie Jenk­in­son, Chair of 100 Women Who Care St Lu­cia, at­tributes the groundswell of sup­port to the fact that the idea is so sim­ple: at­tend a one-hour meet­ing ev­ery three months and do­nate $100 to a lo­cal char­ity se­lected by the mem­ber­ship from a choice of three.

“With ex­ceed­ing our goal of 100 mem­bers, the do­na­tion at our last meet­ing was $12,000 which will make a real im­pact to the char­i­ties se­lected. More­over, all this is done within one hour; with no fur­ther ef­fort or com­mit­ment re­quired from our mem­bers. Our mis­sion, and hope, is for those of us more for­tu­nate to pro­vide for those in great­est need in Saint Lu­cia. $100 on its own does not do much but when 100 com­mit­ted women join forces the com­bined re­sult is sub­stan­tial and sig­nif­i­cant," Ms. Jenk­in­son states.

The next goal is to grow mem­ber­ship to over 200 mem­bers. At the last meet­ing mem­bers agreed any money over $10,000 would be split be­tween the two other nom­i­nee char­i­ties. This quar­ter's win­ning char­ity, Step­ping Stones, was pre­sented with a cheque for $10,000 by Pa­troness Sen­a­tor Berthia Parle. As the or­gan­i­sa­tion's mem­ber­ship was over 100 mem­bers and a to­tal of $12,000 was do­nated, the Saint Lu­cia An­i­mal Pro­tec­tion So­ci­ety (SLAPS) and the Up­ton Girls' Cen­tre were also pre­sented with cheques for $1,000 each.

Step­ping Stones (Af­ter school care and sup­port) is a non-profit or­gan­i­sa­tion set up in May 2015. It fo­cuses on help­ing at-risk and un­der-priv­i­leged chil­dren aged 8-16 from Cas­tries and nearby dis­tricts. Joan Sylvester, who founded the or­gan­i­sa­tion, has over 20 years of ex­pe­ri­ence in so­cial work. Ca­role Cleme­sha, a qual­i­fied tu­tor with 26 years' ex­pe­ri­ence in the UK and Caribbean, is help­ing with Com­mon En­trance stu­dents. Two arts teachers also vol­un­teer their time.

The school op­er­ates on all school days from 3p.m. to 5.30p.m. and the 28 stu­dents reg­is­tered to date are fed a tea-time snack. New re­fer­rals can be made via the stu­dents' schools.

Fund­ing was des­per­ately needed to help pay the util­i­ties and rent, not to men­tion the stu­dents' bus fares home from Vigie.

100 Women Who Care St Lu­cia joins 340 other 100 Women Who Care or­ga­ni­za­tions. One hun­dred per­cent of the funds raised goes to lo­cal char­i­ties with no ad­min­is­tra­tion costs. Pa­troness Sen­a­tor Berthia Parle says, “When I was first ap­proached with the idea of set­ting up a Saint Lu­cia chap­ter I was im­me­di­ately struck by the sim­plic­ity of the idea. I know so many busy women, like my­self, who want to give back to the com­mu­nity and those in need but who have so lit­tle time and of­ten not much knowl­edge of the lo­cal char­i­ties. Other chap­ters have had tremen­dous results and the suc­cess in our first year has been amaz­ing. It is a tes­ta­ment to how this ven­ture has struck a chord with women in our com­mu­nity.”

For more in­for­ma­tion, or to join, visit www.100wom­en­who­carestlu­cia.com, visit the Face­book page or email jenk­in­sonv@gmail.com.

L-R: Joan Sylvester, Pa­troness Berthia Parle and Ca­role Cleme­sha.

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