100 Women Who Care Central York marked its return to in-person meetings last night with a donation to Southlake Foundation.
While the exact amount of the donation hasn't been tallied yet — it typically exceeds $10,000 — members from Newmarket, Aurora and East Gwillimbury chose to support the current fundraising campaign for the regional cancer care program at the Newmarket hospital when they gathered for the first time since the pandemic at Market Brewing July 27.
Retired nurse and 100 Women member Diane Farmer spoke passionately about Southlake Regional Health Centre, the Stronach Regional Cancer Centre and the $20-million HERE is Where Cancer Meets its Match campaign to upgrade Southlake’s original three linear accelerators and add a fifth to allow care for 8,000 more treatments a year.
Founding member Laurie Brakeboer lauded the organizing committee for successfully pivoting during the pandemic to ensure the group survived while in-person meetings were suspended.
The camaraderie and energy generated by more than 100 women gathering in a room to give back is powerful and there was uncertainty as to what lay ahead when COVID-19 challenged them to take the leap to virtual meetings, Brakeboer acknowledged.
However, membership, which is well over 100, remained steady as the group held its quarterly meetings online, she said.
Market Brewing — which donates its space — will be the permanent location for the in-person meetings moving forward, she added.
Since the local chapter of the international organization launched in 2015, the number of members has steadily grown as have the amount of the donations — more than $274,400 has been given — to the grassroots charities vying for the gift.
The 100 Women Who Care organization works on the premise that if each member or team contributes $100 at each meeting, held four times a year, it adds up to a total donation of more than $10,000 each to four non-profit organizations annually.
The charities are nominated by members, who make a pitch for support to their fellow members if the organization’s name is pulled from the hat.
Recipients have included Abuse Hurts, Dragonfly Wellness, Inn From the Cold, Yellow Brick House, the Newmarket Food Pantry, Doane House Hospice, the Shop, MOBYSS, New Leaf, KC's Cancer Cushion Fund, Girls Inc., PKD Foundation, Marquee Theatrical Productions, the Character Community’s Slap and Routes Connecting Communities.
The most recent recipient, the Fill a Purse for a Sister Campaign, received a donation of $12,675 last April.
The donation will have a resounding impact in supporting women and youth in crisis in York Region, said campaign founder Angel Freedman while thanking the members.
The annual initiative from September to December provides purses and backpacks filled with personal necessities to individuals in shelters and crisis centres — many of which are in Newmarket — as they often arrive with few or no personal belongings, she said.
Receiving a purse or backpack to call their own can make all the difference in providing comfort and hope, and restoring their dignity, Freedman said.
New members to 100 Women Who Care Central York are always welcome; you can find out more here.