By DENNIS GRUBAUGH, Illinois Business Journal
The first donation of the newly formed “100+ Women Who Care from the 618” was a memorable one — $31,650 for the Main Street Community Center in Edwardsville.
An oversized, symbolic check marked the occasion on Tuesday, but it was a bag containing hundreds of other checks that represented the real effort, each check donated by a woman who gathered at the initial meeting of the new organization on July 25.
Main Street Executive Director Sara Birkbigler said the money will go to an endowment that will help finance the center’s home-delivered meal program for senior citizens. Meals are delivered five days a week to an average of 25 to 40 people each day.
Under the 618 group’s rules, women members will meet four times a year and vote on a local charity in the 618 area code. The choice is determined by randomly picking from three women who gather at the quarterly meetings. In just over an hour, a vote is taken on a charity and each woman writes a $100 — or greater — check.
The group’s founding member, Denise Arendell of Edwardsville, said 265 women made donations the night of the inaugural gathering and many others joined as word spread. The group has been driven predominantly by Facebook and now has 1,500 followers, she said.
“We know we are on to something special,” Arendell said.
Group member Deb Ellis’ name was drawn at random, and she was allowed to nominate a charity. She chose Main Street Community Center, where she was a board member for several years.
Ellis recalled the initial meeting, on stage at the Wildey Theater, which was packed with women. She reflected on how nervous she was to talk about her charity until she realized she was “feeling all the love in the room, knowing we were there for a great cause.”
The group’s next quarterly meeting will be Oct. 22 at a location still to be determined. Women who want to join can find 100+Women Who Care on Facebook.
PHOTO, from left: Christa Guilbeault, Sandy Knee, Sara Birkbigler, Sarah Rankin, Deb Ellis, and Denise Arendell.
Look for more coverage of Women Who Care in the September print edition of the Illinois Business Journal