By Lois Maharg
Five minutes is not much time to convince others that a nonprofit like NAMI deserves their generous support. But Cheryl Girvan of Saline recently stepped up to the challenge. NAMI Washtenaw now has $12,800 more in the bank as a result.
“I spoke from personal experience,” said Girvan, whose 5-minute pitch at the spring meeting of 100+ Women Who Care of Washtenaw County persuaded members to make the largest donation they’ve made since the group began in 2012. In her speech, Girvan described NAMI’s many programs as well as her experience of taking NAMI’s Family-to-Family class for help in caring for a family member with depression.
In Family-to-Family, she said, “I was educated about mental illness, about the mental health system, and I was being supported by others going through similar experiences. I honestly felt like I could exhale for the first time once I took this class.” Members of 100+ Women “were absolutely baffled that there was no other agency providing this type of support in Washtenaw County,” she said, adding this was another factor that sold the women on NAMI Washtenaw.
Girvan’s enthusiasm for 100+ Women matches her enthusiasm for NAMI.
“I joined 100+ Women a few years ago,” Girvan said, emailing a few days later to explain.
“100+ Women is a group of women living in Washtenaw County who agree to meet twice a year and all make a ($100) donation each time to a charity selected by the group,” she wrote. The charities must be located in Washtenaw County and serve its residents. “This isn’t a group of women who want to say, ‘Look at me, I’m giving.’ This is a group of women who authentically care about the well-being of those living in Washtenaw County and specifically those who are assisted through the many worthwhile and essential nonprofits in Washtenaw County.”
The process for selecting a nonprofit is simple. Any group member can put the name of a favorite charity in a hat, out of which three names are drawn. The three women whose charities are drawn each get 5 minutes to make a case for why 100+ Women should support their charity. Then members vote, and the winning nonprofit gets a donation of $10,000 or more.
The group meets for one hour twice a year. NAMI representatives have been invited to attend the next meeting in September to offer a brief report on how the funds are spent.
These reports “are an exciting part of the meeting,” Girvan said.
“You are able to hear directly from the recipient charity and learn how the donation has impacted their work and the people they serve,” she wrote. “It is very fulfilling to know your $100 donation has blossomed to more than $10,000 and is being used to impact many lives. And as 100+ Women grows in membership, the subsequent donations will grow too!”
For more information about 100+ Women, visit the group’s website at 100womenwashtenawcounty.org or contact cochair Sara Martens at firstname.lastname@example.org.