Local women going strong

Jacob Lane · Wednesday, May 17, 2017
Would you believe that 100+ Women Who Care, the Comet Chapter, has donated more than $60,000 to the community in the last two years?

Well it’s true. No middleman, no overt governing body, no over the top fundraising efforts. Just a group of Atalissa, Nichols and West Liberty women with open hearts.

“We have women from all different backgrounds in the community in terms of age, interests, churches and more,” says Board Member Lori Leggins. “That’s us, a wide demographic and wide membership.”

100+ Women Who Care (100+WWWC) is a national organization that’s championed by its individual local groups. Four times a year the Comet Chapter meets to choose a local beneficiary.

The process is simple, members meet at a pre-determined location for a social half hour, during which time every woman submits one slip of paper with the name of a local organization.

Afterwards three slips of paper are chosen at random and the women vote on one. Everyone writes a $100 check, all of which are gathered and given to the winner.

“It’s winner take all, we turn the checks straight over to the organization,” says Leggins about the simplicity of the process. “That’s by design.”

The goal is to one day have 100 members, right now the Comet Chapter is averaging 70-80. But, that’s still $7,000 to $8,000 worth of cash generated per meeting towards a local organization.

What makes 100+WWWC work is that, beyond the actual writing of the checks, members aren’t required to do anything else. They don’t even have to attend the quarterly meetings.

This too is by design. The Comet Chapter gives women a chance to help the community, despite their busy life and other responsibilities. Checks are signed, sealed and delivered.

“Women are busy, they wear a lot of different hats,” says Leggins. She herself is no exception to this fact.

“So our members really like this concept,” she adds. “No bake sales, no pop cans to redeem. Not that those are bad ideas, but 100+ Women gives you a chance to relax and talk with friends.”

They’re also pretty serious about the recipients being local, the point is to benefit the communities of Atalissa, Nichols and West Liberty directly.

None of the money goes to organizations outside of the West Liberty Community School District, which, of course, is also the reason it’s referred to as the Comet Chapter.

The proof is in the pudding, recipients (winners) have included:

The Ministerial Association, CYG for the benefit of Kayla Smith, the West Liberty Fine Arts Program, the Back Pack Program, Pre K-5 teachers, the West Liberty Fire Department, Dream Catchers

and the Infant Closet

The Chapter kicked off the first meeting of its third year by choosing to donate to the Friends of Historic West Liberty, a group involved with helping the Downtown Task Force (DTF).

The money will go towards helping start a grant writing process for DTF, which is pursing a Community Development Block Grant, which could net downtown development efforts around $800,000 if successful.

The 100+WWWC Chapter was started by Lori Leggins, Jodi Dvorak and Chris Martin, inspired by the Hawkeye Chapter that was created in Iowa City a few years earlier.

They were drawn to this idea that a group of women could make such an impactful difference at a local level just by meeting four times a year.

“In their first event they were able to donate $22,000 and I thought ‘that’s an awesome idea,’” says Board Member Leggins. “I just like the whole way it was done, minimal time investment for the members but such a huge impact.”

Unlike other famous organizations, such as Rotary and the Lions, there isn’t a strict central governing body. While a national organization, it’s very hands off.

100+WWWC, including the Comet Chapter, is not a 501(c) nonprofit organization either. They don’t keep any of the money made during a quarterly meeting.

Rather, they ask a local organization, most recently Fred’s Feed, to a be lite-bite sponsor and provide money towards the snacks and the venue.

The Comet Chapter also attempts to include everybody in West Liberty, Nichols and Atalissa by not having a set meeting date.

Yes, it meets quarterly, but it’s not always on a Monday, or the third day of the month, or something along those lines. In fact, the Comet Chapter will be meeting in August, but has yet to put a date on that.

Don’t worry though, they’ll put word out soon. The Chapter plans to gather at the Floral Hall at the Muscatine County Fairgrounds this time around, more specifics will be in the Index.

“Being as we are small community, we have to be flexible with the calendar,” says Leggins. “We can’t accommodate everybody, but we do try move it around to include as many as possible.”

In order to participate with the 100+WWWC Comet Chapter members must be at least 18, a woman and willing to commit to writing a $100 check four times a year, totaling $400 in all.

However, they invite women to come and check it out. It’s not hard to be involved, in fact, the chapter attempts to make it very easy. It just takes the right attitude and a checkbook.
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