WINCHESTER – Sometimes the simplest idea can have the biggest impact.

The idea behind 100 Women Who Care was straightforward: 100 women, $100 tickets and one hour to help as many charities possible. The idea resonated with the women of North Dundas because 100 quickly turned into 200, and as a result $10,000 blossomed to $20,000.

To say that the inaugural charity event held at the Joel Steel Community Centre Thurs., May 10 was a success would be an understatement. But for Diane Crummy, chair of the charity initiative, it was hardly a surprise.

“I’m not shocked. This community is very supportive. I never questioned we would have 100. I never questioned it. I never figured we would have it that fast. For me, I’m just like everyone else in this room. I had a vote. We’ve got some impact and our charities are going to benefit big time. And I’m going to be excited to do it again,” she said.

Breckyn Fowler (right), resource and volunteer co-ordinator for Habitat for Humanity Cornwall and the Counties, held court to drum up support for her cause. Fowler and her organization had the second most votes and received $8,000 to help with the Dundas County build in Williamsburg.

The first-year event surpassed its goal of 100 women within nine hours of the campaign’s launch and eventually had to cap the total at 200.

“We would have accepted more than 200, but what we were running into was having a venue big enough in North Dundas to hold that number. We wanted room for socializing and room for the meeting part. So we have no plans right now to expand, but we will take a look at that and see what we think. I really believe we might have had 300 people had we not had to cap that number,” said Crummy.

With $20,000 on the line, seven charities applied for funding for various community projects. Each group had a display table and representatives available during the social hour to “campaign” before taking to the stage to make their final presentations in three minutes. Once all the presentations were completed, the ladies voted to distribute the money available.

Jo-Ann Houle (Cup of Jo’s), Susan Marriner (Marriner Design) and Lisa Williams (Main Street Clothing) were three of the almost 200 women in attendance for the inaugural 100 Women Who Care event.

The big winner of the evening was Dundas County Hospice, which received the majority of the votes and was awarded $10,000 to build an expansion for their equipment loan program. The victory comes on the heels of being the top vote-getter at the South Dundas 100 Women Who Care event the previous night.

Arnold Scheerder, a member of the board of directors for Dundas County Hospice and their spokesperson for the evening, was left nearly speechless.

“We have specific needs and to be lucky twice in a row so we don’t have to dip into our programs and we can continue to expand and work with our programs, it’s hard to describe what it does for us,” said Sheerder. “It’s a program that’s expanding. We’ve tripled it over the last three or four years. There’s a tremendous need for it. There’s nobody else in the area that does it. We need the room to keep our equipment and to be lucky twice in a row is absolutely amazing.”

Paul Renaud, chair of the hospice’s board, was also taken aback.

Kristen Casselman, managing director of the Winchester District Memorial Hospital (WDMH) Foundation used her acting skills during the organization’s presentation. The WDMH received $2,000 to fund the purchase of a wireless fetal monitor.

“It means a whole lot to our organization. The women of North and South Dundas have come through for us and we’re so very grateful for them to do that. We’re overwhelmed. Now a lot of the work starts for us to get these projects up and running and on the go so we can improve our services to the people of Dundas County,” he said.

The financial reward was obviously the goal, but Scheerder maintains they would have considered the evening a victory no matter who had the most votes.

“It’s first class the way it was put on. What it means to us is that we had an opportunity tonight to talk to 200 women that now know about hospice. Two-hundred women who know people, so word spreads what hospice does and what it can provide. So even if we would not have been the winner we have been able to talk about hospice. That’s a tremendous benefit, which you cannot get any other way. I feel that we now have 200 ambassadors in the community,” he said. 

The equipment loan program has an extensive inventory of wheelchairs, walkers and other comfort and mobility aids to lend palliative clients free of charge and depends almost entirely on volunteers. As the population continues to age, demand will only grow.

Reid Rankin (left), Maria Thompson and Alex Miller of St. Mary’s Catholic School in Chesterville answered questions and campaigned for support for the purchase of new playground equipment.

“Growth is huge for us. We would like to expand eventually to have a facility where we can house people in a bed but I mean that’s a long way down the road. But there’s always room for improvement just to make life better for everybody,” said Renaud.

Habitat for Humanity Cornwall and the Counties had the second most votes and received $8,000 for their home build for the Pinard family in Williamsburg.

The Winchester District Memorial Hospital Foundation came in third and received the remaining $2,000 to put toward the purchase of a wireless fetal monitor.

With the inaugural event in the books, Crummy had a moment to reflect on a highly successful and whirlwind evening.

“For me, because I’ve been involved in a lot of fundraising, it is a way where a group of people have input and impact all in one hour. I’d been looking at it for a while and I just think it’s a simple concept… They come in, have a bit of input and have some fun,” she said.

Crummy wrapped up the evening with words that could hardly be more appropriate.

“I give simply because it’s the right thing to do in empowering and supporting others. Alone we can do so little but together we can do so much,” she said.

Diane Crummy (centre), chair of 100 Women Who Care with the three winning charities of the inaugural event. Dundas County Hospice received $10,000, Habitat for Humanity Cornwall and the Counties was awarded $8,000 and Winchester District Memorial Hospital (WDMH) Foundation got $2,000. Pictured are Kristen Casselman (left) and Cindy Peters from WDMH, Paul Renaud and Arnold Scheerder from Dundas County Hospice and Breckyn Fowler from Habitat for Humanity Cornwall and the Counties. Press Photos – Schoch