Two local women certainly fit that definition although Jenny Welch and Sheila Terlep, founders of 100 Women Who Care (100 WWC) Elkhart County don’t think of themselves as philanthropists. “No, not us; it’s too big a word,” Sheila laughs. Jenny chimes in, “We’re just two caring women who want to make a difference and who have a passion for what we do.”
What they do is amazing. Two short summers ago, Jenny read Be the Miracle by author Regina Brett who related the story about the Cleveland, Ohio-based 100 Women Who Care organization. “It was empowering,” Jenny says, and so she shared the idea with her friend Sheila. These two women, about to become empty nesters, began their research. Their next step was to meet with Megan Deputy Baughman and Liz Naquin Borger, both active community members, to sound them out on what they thought about the possibility of establishing a 100WWC chapter here in Elkhart. Both Megan and Liz loved the idea and suggested Jenny and Sheila meet with Pete McCown and Jodi Spataro of the Community Foundation of Elkhart County. Both thought this was a great idea and agreed that the Foundation with its 501(c)3 status could be the perfect vehicle to handle their funds.
The mission of 100WWC is to provide philanthropic assistance to those who need it through nonprofit organizations serving Elkhart County residents.
100WWC members meet four times a year for an hour-long meeting with each woman or team of women writing a check for $100, nominating a nonprofit serving Elkhart County. Each nomination is put into a pool for consideration. Three are drawn; members vote to determine which one of the three will receive that meeting’s funds. “The women who nominated each charity nominated makes a presentation about why they are seeking funding and what the monies will be used for,” Jenny explains. “The needs explained are often quite personal and tug at your heartstrings.”
“Not only are the women’s presentations touching, but it’s also exciting when your charity wins,” Jenny says. “The looks on our members’ faces when they see that the nonprofit they nominated will be the recipient of the $10,000 donated is so rewarding.” Sharing the good works of these organizations is like planting seeds, ideas, possibilities, they say. They know they are building awareness and making an impact. “100WWC is such a simple, powerful tool,” Jenny says.
These quarterly donations of $10,000 each can make a real impact. One of the most recent $10,000 gifts benefitted the Elkhart County Clubhouse which is a support community for adults with mental illnesses, helping them rehabilitate, recover, and reintegrate into the community. The gift went to their capital campaign for a kitchen/bathroom renovation.
Since its founding in 2014, 100WWC has donated $100,000 to local nonprofits serving County residents, thus truly helping people “grow – and be nurtured – where they’re planted.”
Jenny and Sheila understand that 100WWC isn’t for everyone. However, they believe this is a much simpler, less time-consuming way to raise funds than to spend hours of time on a specific fund-raiser, like a competitive run with its heavy time commitment to bring in dollars. “We meet four times a year at the Matterhorn,” Jenny explains. “From 5-5:30 p.m. is our social hour; our meeting is from 5:30-6:30. That’s it. And if someone can’t attend, due to a family or work-related conflict, vacation, etc., she can send her check with a friend or send in her contribution through the Community Foundation. It’s only a one-year commitment.”
But many of the women have been with 100WWC both years; membership is currently between 145-150 and still growing. The first members started as names on Sheila’s and Jenny’s Christmas card lists and church directories, or with other friends and acquaintances. They want every woman throughout the County to know she’s welcome to join 100WWC.
Currently, the local 100WWC chapter has members from cities throughout Elkhart County, including, Elkhart, Middlebury, Nappanee and Goshen. “Our meetings are empowering,” Jenny and Sheila say. “The fellowship, combined with learning of these local nonprofits’ good work, is so meaningful. Basically we’re driven by God…”
“Being associated with the Community Foundation lends us a presence and gives us a strength that we wouldn’t have on our own.”
Partnering with the Community Foundation made a huge difference, according to Jenny, because “we want to give brick and mortar assistance here in Elkhart County. There are numerous worthwhile nonprofit organizations across the country, but we want the funds we raise to stay here. Being associated with the Foundation lends us a presence and gives us a strength that we wouldn’t have on our own.”
“Making a difference” is a phrase that has become familiar to all of us, both locally and nationally. However, the passion these two women have for people’s needs throughout Elkhart County brings new meaning and importance to these three simple words.
Jenny and Sheila believe deeply in what they do. Together, they and the100 Women Who Care Elkhart County are indeed making a difference… through their caring, kindness, charitable concern and generosity. In our book they are true philanthropists.
As of October 2016, the 100 Women Who Care have given a total of $100,000, in increments of $10,000, to the following nonprofit organizations serving Elkhart County: Ronald McDonald House Charities of Michiana, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Elkhart County Clubhouse, Guidance Ministries/God’s Kitchen, Ryan’s Place, Elkhart County Suicide Prevention Coalition, CASA (a program of CAPS), Bashor Children’s Home, Crossing National, and Church Community Services.