When others' need for help seems to dwarf our individual capacity to give it, some people resign themselves to the inevitable and choose to do nothing.
Since 2006, however, a fast-growing affiliation of women have responded by applying the strength-in-numbers theory to charitable giving – a movement that recently spread to Fort Wayne, wrote its first check in July and expects to do far more in the very near future.
“What an impact you can make for just a little money and time!” exclaimed Marilyn Groves, one of the founding members of the local chapter of “100+ Women Who Care,” one of more than 50 chapters in this country and others operating on a concept that is simultaneously simple and effective.
Local co-founder Carol Sprandel had read in a magazine about how 100 women pledge to contribute $100 at four one-hour meetings each four times a year and to give the entire $10,000 pot to a charity selected by a majority vote of the group.
“I thought, 'Wow – what a simple, cool concept. You get more bang for your buck,' ” said Sprandel, who shared her excitement with friends who passed the word on to their friends. And by the time the local chapter held its first meeting July 11 the idea had attracted 38 women each willing and able to give $100 despite the to-be-determined identity of the beneficiary.
And when the group meets again on Oct. 14, Sprandel and Groves hope to be close to or even exceed the century mark and the $10,000 gift that represents.
But even the chapter's initial contribution of $3,800 was a godsend to the “Inasmuch” program operated by Broadway Christian Church and 26 other congregations.
“What a wonderful organization to help people in need. We had 33 people waiting for help when we opened the other day,” said Broadway's benevolence minister, Alyn Biddle. The name alludes to Jesus' assurance that “Inasmuch as you have done this to one of the least of these, you have done it to me,” and the agency works to obey that mandate by providing food, clothing, bus fare, help with utilities and other services to those in need.
How much will $3,800 do for the “least” of Fort Wayne? Biddle said that every two weeks Inasmuch spends $1,200 on bus passes and a similar amount on food, so “That money is very significant for us.”
To be sure, not everyone can afford to donate $400 per year to any charity, however worthy. Others – and I count myself in this group – thoroughly investigate any organization to which they give more than a token amount. Even so, there's no denying the appeal of being able turn one hour and $100 into a $10,000 act of philanthropy.
If the selection process seems random, well, it is – but only so far. Every member is asked to bring the name of a charity to be considered for support, and from those names are drawn three to be considered in the final vote. The women who nominated the three finalists each give a five-minute explanation of their organization, complete an information sheet outlining the organization's mission, history and funding and are prepared to answer questions. Then the women vote, and write their checks accordingly.
When Karen Dunigan of Jackson, Mich., started “100 Women” in 2006, her group wrote its first check to an organization that used the $10,000 to buy baby cribs for various local charities. And even allowing for the possibility that God's hand or even fate may not be directing each vote of each chapter, the local group's first choice seems a worthy one.
That's because Biddle insists Inasmuch's goal is not simply to meet immediate needs, but to instill the kind of personal responsibility that, over time, can minimize the need for charity. The agency doesn't take government money for fear of compromising its commitment to offer heavenly riches with those who seek its earthly help.
“We meet physical needs first, but if we didn't share the Gospel we wouldn't do what we do,” Biddle said.
“We nominate who we know and want to help,” Sprandel said – a personal approach that can overcome the institutional approach that too often substitutes huge pledge goals for one-on-one human contact.
But when the Fort Wayne women next meet – whether there are 100 of them, 75, 50 or fewer, representatives of Inasmuch are expected to be there, too, to share just how much that $3,800 meant to people who don't have $100 to give, but are blessed because so many others do, did, and will.
Keep on truckin'
Saturday I wrote about how the "Truck of Honor" created Bo Trout of Tecumseh, Mich., in 2006 to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks was to be offered for sale at Fort Wayne Auto Truck Auction on Wednesday, 12 years to the day after the twin towers fell.
Jerry Young of Truck Services Inc. of Hamilton, Mich., paid $77,000 for the truck and another $13,000 for the trailer. Young's not sure what he'll do with the prize but is convinced “it's quite a value.”
Especially on the anniversary of 9/11.