It was while flipping through a local newspaper during a trip to Kelowna that Squamish resident Catherine Trueman first learned about the ‘100 Who Care’ movement.
“I saw a little article about 100 Men Who Give a Damn in Kelowna and what they were doing. I thought, ‘Wow, what a great idea, this is something we could totally do in Squamish’,” she recalled.
The premise is simple: About 100 members meet for just one hour, four times a year to listen to presentations from local non-profits. Members vote for the organization they deem to be most deserving of support, after which each member writes a cheque for $100 to the organization with the most votes.
Members can make nominations for charities they’d like to support, while local registered charities are also able to apply for consideration. Three organizations are randomly selected each quarter to come in and make a five-minute presentation, after which members can ask the presenters questions before placing their votes.
Some brief online research led Trueman to find out about the 100 Who Care alliance and its approximately 600 chapters across the globe. “From there I thought, ‘Let’s give it a try in Squamish and see what happens’,” said Trueman.
“Basically I just started with some of my closest girlfriends and neighbours and asked what they thought. They all loved the idea, and with their help, we just started spreading the word.”
For member Jaime Morum, a former child protection social worker, the idea served as an opportunity to get back in touch with her social services-based roots.
“When (Trueman) came up with this idea I was fully on board,” Morum explained. “It’s just been so awesome ever since … It’s everything about Squamish I love; how the community comes together for people.”
The fundraising effort began two years ago with 30 participants, and has since grown to over 100 members. With no membership fee or overhead costs, all donations go entirely to the chosen charity.
So far, the group has raised thousands for organizations like Squamish Volunteer Drivers for Cancer, the Squamish Food Bank, Howe Sound Marine Rescue Society, Big Brothers Big Sisters Sea to Sky, Sea to Sky Community Hospice and the Sea to Sky SPCA.
“Without these organizations that we’re trying to support, there are so many people and so many benefits to people in this community that would be lost,” Trueman said.
Planning around the quarterly meetings makes giving back attainable for members, both financially and in terms of the limited time commitment required, she adds.
“I always kind of think, maybe it’s a few less lattes at Starbucks throughout the year to be able to do that. Some people like to pick their specific charity and stick with one throughout the year… but for me personally, I like to be able to spread it around and help all different people and areas of the community I live.”
However, the benefits to both members and nominated charities reach far beyond a quarterly donation.
“Everybody thought it was a great idea to be able to pool our resources to make a greater impact,” Trueman said. “They liked the idea of getting together and meeting other women in the community and also finding out about the different charities and organizations throughout Squamish and the corridor that they could support —often we get to our meetings and some people have never heard of these charities, and suddenly find there are other ways they can get involved, whether it’s through time or donations.
“It’s new friends, new business acquaintances, finding other organizations and ways to help out. It’s definitely more than just a $100 donation four times a year,” she added.
Members come from a diverse range of backgrounds, from young women just beginning their careers to stay-at-home moms to retirees to business professionals to doctors and more.
“It’s just grown into this really neat, awesome community of women who have a lot of common interests,” explained Morum.
It’s also spun-off into other initiatives: While the group has grown large enough for Whistler and Pemberton to start up their own chapter, a 100 Kids Who Care group has also emerged in Squamish.
“They meet the same as we do, quarterly, and they save up their allowance and donate a smaller amount of money … the kids come up with nominations,” Morum explained. Members in grades K to 6 donate $2 while members in Grades 7 to 12 donate $10 per meeting.
It’s clear Squamish’s 100 Women Who Care chapter, “has this really neat sort of ripple effect in our community,” Morum added. “So much positivity comes from it. It’s a pretty amazing thing to watch.”
Despite the 100 Women stipulation insinuated by the group’s name, there’s no membership cut-off, Trueman added. “We’re always accepting new members and we’re happy to be a 100-plus chapter.”
Prospective members can apply online, while the next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, April 30 at the Executive Suites Hotel. All members receive tax receipts for each donation, while members unable to make it to a meeting can livestream presentations and submit their vote by proxy.
For more information, go to https://100womensquamish.com.
**Please note, this article has been corrected to accurately spell Jaime Morum's last name.