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Chelsea Hill and 100 Women Who Care Maui

Mana’olana Pink Paddlers, a canoe club for cancer patients and cancer survivors, has been a recipient of a donation from 100 Women Who Care Maui.

Chelsea Hill found herself in a self-described “do or die situation.” A five-year-old neighbor confided that she was experiencing sexual abuse at home and no one believed her. With nowhere else for this girl to go, Hill got involved, but navigating the legal system quickly got expensive. She initially asked her own family to help with the costs of legal representation, but it wasn’t enough.

Her sister suggested doing a fund-raising event like one she saw in Victoria, Canada, called 100 Women Who Care. The model is simple: Using the power of group fund-raising, women are invited to gather together and commit to donating to a single local cause.

100 Women Who Care was founded in 2006 by Karen Dunnigan in Jackson, Michigan. Working with the Center for Human Health, Dunnigan learned that due to the cost of cribs, women were using boxes and dressers instead, putting their babies at risk. As much as $10,000 was needed to purchase cribs, mattresses, and blankets. Dunnigan designed the model around this need, asked 100 women to donate $100 each, and ended up with $12,800. Clearly, she was on to something, and she continued developing the idea. There are now over 600 chapters throughout the world under the umbrella of the 100 Who Care Alliance, which has expanded to include men and kids to fulfill the needs of the local community.

Chelsea Hill (left) presenting a donation to the Maui Nui Marine Resource Council.

Photo Credit: Courtney-Avichouser

100 Who Care Alliance

This volunteer-run group provides resources for the over 600 chapters around the world, including 100 Women Who Care, 100 Men Who Care, 100 People Who Care, 100 Businesses Who Care, and 100 Kids Who Care. The group offers a yearly 100 Who Care Alliance Leadership Conference, where new chapter leaders can learn the nuts and bolts of starting a chapter as well as network and do further training. The next group meets in Scotts-dale, Arizona, on April 11–13, 2019. For more information, visit 100whocarealliance.org

In the spirit of 100 Women Who Care, Chelsea Hill threw an event together quickly with friends, renting the local community center for space in support of the little girl and the legal expenses. “We had 28 women in one week—very passionate women. We raised $2,800.” She realized the concept fit the local lifestyle—women who may lack time to volunteer, but who have resources and a desire to help with local needs. Hill decided to continue the effort, and the group she gathered in that first meeting—dubbed 100 Women Who Care Maui (100womenwhocaremaui.org)—started growing. Two years in, the local paper, the Maui News, did a story about the group a week before its next event, which helped to double their membership. After some marketing help and partnering with Roxanne Darling, they soon had 300 members.

The quarterly meetings now usually draw about 100 to 120 members. At the meetings, members can nominate any local cause by putting its name in a punch bowl; three are chosen to pitch. Each person has five minutes to present, followed by five minutes of questions and answers; then a vote is taken. All members donate $100 each to the cause that gets the most votes. Members who are short on time and don’t attend the meetings still contribute by mailing in their checks. As a bonus, Hill organizes a dinner after the meetings at various venues where members can socialize, network, and learn more about causes and nonprofits on the island.

100 Women Who Care Maui raises approximately $15,000 every quarter. Since they started, they’ve donated $166,000 to causes relating to children and family, the environment, and animal rescue. Hill says, “Women not only donate, they become advocates of the nonprofits.”

Some organizations come to the meetings with a specific need. La’a Kea Community, which provides space and programs for youth and adults with disabilities, asked for a donation to help build a cafeteria on its property. It was awarded $12,200 to get started. Another group had organized a holiday gathering in Honolulu, Oahu, for families of deaf children throughout the state to connect, including a Santa who “spoke” American Sign Language. A donation helped to fund deaf children from Maui, otherwise quite isolated, to fly to Oahu and partake in the gathering. For the first time in their lives, they were able to sit on Santa’s knee and tell him what they wanted for Christmas. 

Hill recounts one of the most memorable meetings: “Mana’olana Pink Paddlers is a canoe club for cancer patients and cancer survivors. Three women spoke and shared what the club meant to them—giving them the experience of being out on the water, working together in unison, and being supported. There was not a dry eye in the crowd.”

—Alma Tassi

WHAT YOU CAN DO

If you have 10 minutes: 

Do a quick search to see if there’s a local chapter in the area and learn about the causes it has supported.

If you have an hour: 

Many chapters allow members to bring a guest. Attend and see if you’re inspired to join.

If you have $100: 

Contribute to a winning cause at a local chapter meeting and appreciate the power of group fund-raising.