In less than an hour, they had raised more than $10,000 for charity.
It wasn’t a telethon. It wasn’t an auction. It wasn’t even a 5K. It was simply a roomful of women writing checks.
And they plan on doing it four times a year.
Seated quietly in a lounge at the Cedar Creek Swim and Racquet Club in Olathe, 111 women diligently signed $100 checks without protest on a recent Thursday evening.
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As members of the Cedar Creek subdivision’s 100+ Women Who Care group, they have promised to meet every three months to raise around $10,000 for charity. Each voting member nominates a local charity. The group selects three of those charities at random, then the women elect one of those charities and each member writes $100 to the chosen charity.
“I like the concept that one-hundred dollars could become ten-thousand in one night,” said Barbara Burks, who started the club. “That’s huge. It’s the power of a community. To me, that’s magic.”
Burks started the Cedar Creek group after hearing about her friend’s participation in an Iowa one.
Along with her neighbor, Phyllis French, they held the first meeting in June, expecting only 30 or so people to show up, after sending out an e-mail to other Cedar Creek residents. Much to their amazement, 74 arrived.
At that meeting, the women raised $7,400 for Friends of Johnson County Developmental Supports, a nonprofit organization which helps people with disabilities.
The money will go toward the organization’s emergency assistance fund, for things like a new mattress or dental work for disabled residents, said its executive director Martha Hagedorn-Krass.
At its most recent meeting, the Cedar Creek chapter raised $11,100 for New House, a domestic violence shelter in northeast Kansas City.
Olathe resident Valerie Bonebrake, who nominated the shelter, wiped tears from her eyes after her charity was chosen for the women’s generosity.
“These women and children at this shelter are desperate and alone,” she said. “To donate this much money is an answered prayer. I feel very blessed right now.”
She added that domestic violence is a tragedy that doesn’t discriminate. It affects everyone.
“But think about how much harder it must be for women in the urban core who don’t have the same resources other people do,” she said.
Many of the women who donated money to New House on Thursday evening had never even heard of the shelter before.
Which isn’t surprising, Burks said.
“There are so many charities in the Kansas City area, that it’s impossible to know them all,” she said. “So these meetings have been a learning experience because we’re being exposed to a wide variety.”
And for many of the women, the 100+ Women Who Care club is more than just writing a check.
“You’re not just donating to a nonprofit organization, but to individuals,” said Susan Younger of Olathe. “There are people with heartbreaking stories behind each of these charities.”
The next meeting of Cedar Creek’s 100+ Women Who Care club will be held at the Cedar Creek Swim and Racquet Club at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 11. The meeting isn’t just open to Cedar Creek residents, however. It’s open to any women in the Kansas City area who want to make new friends and raise money for worthy causes.
“We’re opening up people’s eyes,” Burks said. “Johnson County is a very affluent area but there is a lot of poverty here as well. We just want to help.”
For more information about joining, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
The next meeting of Cedar Creek’s 100+ Women Who Care club will be held at the Cedar Creek Swim and Racquet Club at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 11.