In 2010, a handful of women from eastern Jackson County got together and put a modest concept into immediate action — collective giving for the greater good.
Those women — Jane Stepp, Pam Stepp, Trish Goodale, Laurie Meyer, and Nancy Bruns — formulated a plan in which ordinary women would make an extraordinary impact for a local nonprofit organization.
Of course, if you knew the women of the Eastland Giving Circle, you would never label a single one as ordinary.
Since its inception, the Eastland Giving Circle has been responsible for some astonishing giving in eastern Jackson County — and they’ve done it $300 at a time.
Each member of the Eastland Giving Circle is asked to donate $302.50 a year, a sum that multiplies almost exponentially when you consider that the circle has grown from its five original members to 70 members to nearly 150 women from across Independence, Blue Springs, and Lee’s Summit.
“I found EGC to be a perfect way for me to give back to my immediate community,” board member Melanie Cline, who joined in 2012, said of her involvement. “I’d wanted to do something of impact in my own backyard and this seemed a great way to compound an easy, personal donation with that of other like-minded women.
“Once I became a part of the group, I found the women shared many of my same values and ideas related to philanthropic giving. It feels good to give and make a difference in the world, globally, but it feels particularly good when you can affect change in the places that you see and read about locally. I take great pride in telling others I’m a part of this exceptional group of generous, concerned women.”
By pooling their resources, these women wrote a check for $25,000 to Hillcrest Transitional Housing in 2010. That’s an extraordinary financial gift for an organization doing equally impressive work with families battling to get back on their feet.
In 2011 and 2012, Eastland Giving Circle gave $21,000 — first to Drumm Farm and the next year to St. Mary’s Manor. ReDiscover was the beneficiary of this collection of giving women, earning a $20,000 gift in 2013.
The circle grew in 2014 as the EGC was able to give $22,000 to Midwest Foster Care and Adoption. The following year, as membership and giving increased, Pro Deo Youth Center was granted $30,000 toward its mission of serving the youth and providing programming in Lee’s Summit.
Community Services League also received a healthy $30,000 grant from EGC in 2016, bringing the total amount of money given to nearly $170,000 in EGC’s name.
The women of the EGC surpassed the $200,000 mark last week after collecting a record amount of money for the betterment of the communities they serve — $46,000 to be exact.
For the first time since its inception, the Eastland Giving Circle was able to give two gifts in 2017, $30,000 to Mother’s Refuge and $16,000 to Rachel House. Both donations fulfill a goal this year to benefit organizations that focus on the needs of children from prenatal to toddlers.
Board member Kelley Manning said seeing the sheer impact and difference they can make cooperatively makes this group unique.
“The biggest benefit of the Eastland Giving Circle is that it is a group of women that make a small contribution that collectively impact a local organization,” she said. “Our goal every year is to provide an organization with a $30,000 grant. That amount of money to a non-profit organization is extraordinary. The women of the Giving Circle could give their individual contribution to a local non-profit, but that does not make the impact of the collective group.”
At their grant event last week, the board also announced the focus of the EGC’s 2018 grants — addiction — a growing healthcare crisis that certainly has a need for more focused attention around eastern Jackson County.
Greater giving to benefit the greatest good in our communities, the Eastland Giving Circle has put its collective money to some incredibly generous use to better eastern Jackson County.
For more information on these extraordinary women, visit http://www.eastlandgivingcircle.org.
Lee’s Summit resident John Beaudoin writes about city and civic issues, people and personalities around town. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.