By Nancy Price
Four years ago, local resident Nicol Spradlin wanted to become involved with her local community. The problem? She had little time to commit.
“I work as a branch manager in Center Grove for Old National Bank and I had three children still in school,” Spradlin said. “I just didn’t have time to volunteer.”
Until she met Carol Phipps, a Center Grove resident who had just started a local chapter of an international giving circle initiative called 100 Women Who Care. Members in 100 Women Who Care gather four times a year for a one-hour meeting, where they donate $100 per person at each meeting. Members are invited to nominate a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization to receive funding. Three nonprofits are randomly selected and those members responsible for the selected nominations present information about the organization. After the presentation, members vote for which nonprofit they would most like to donate. All donated funds go toward funding the nonprofit that received the most votes.
PLANTING THE SEED
Phipps, who became involved with a local chapter in Edgar County, Ill. where her husband worked and lived at the time, was impressed with the organization and inspired to start a chapter in Johnson County.
“If a smaller county like Edgar County (total population of about 17,600 residents) could do it, think of what Johnson County could do,” she said. Phipps reached out to three Johnson County residents, presented the organization’s concept and planned a kick-off luncheon, followed by the organization’s first quarterly meeting in 2016.
Spradlin, one of the first members to join, felt quarterly meetings were reasonable; she still had time to go home afterward and cook for her family. “The first meeting was so inspirational and informative,” she said. “It felt great to write that check at the end of the meeting to a very worthy cause and I was able to meet and socialize with some amazing women in the community. Now, four years later I am the chair for the Steering Committee. I love what we do and how we do it. It’s unique, fun and very worthy of my time.”
CAUSES THAT INSPIRE
Like Spradlin, Lisa Lintner Valenzuela serves on the organization’s steering committee and joined 100+ Women Who Care Johnson County early in its inception. Valenzuela is a frequent advocate for various causes, including the Johnson County Public Library Foundation, which received a grant from the organization late last year, and Interchurch Food Pantry, which she learned of shortly after moving to Johnson County in 2015. Phipps is a co-manager of ICFP. “Growing up, our family did not have much money and my mother was a very proud woman but after leaving the facility, I really had tears in my eyes because I thought a place like ICFP would have helped my family out when I was a kid and my mother’s dignity would have been intact if she were a client. Because of this, I nominated ICFP at the first meeting of 100 Women Who Care,” Valenzuela said.
Access Johnson County Public Transit is this year’s first grant recipient. A subsidiary of Gateway Services (a local nonprofit serving those with disabilities), Access J.C. received $12,500 from 100+ Women Who Care Johnson County. The public transit system offers demand response service. “With a 24-hour notice we can pick them up at their home and take them where they need to go,” said Becky Allen, director for Access J.C.
“If you have ever ridden on public transit, there are times when you are standing at a bus stop wondering if your bus is coming or if they have forgotten you,” Allen said. “That is on both the demand response or fixed and flexible fixed service. You start feeling anxious and then worrying if you are going to make your appointment or get to work or even get home. Are you going to be left behind? So we have requested help in purchasing the hardware in order to have a Where’s My Bus app so that passengers can see in real time where their bus is. We are a little over halfway to having it fully funded (as a result of the grant).”