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A Group of Chittenden County Women Gathers to Socialize — and Give

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Members of the group with Mark Redmond of Spectrum - COURTESY OF ERIN BARNABY
  • Courtesy Of Erin Barnaby
  • Members of the group with Mark Redmond of Spectrum

A group of local women says it's found a way to make philanthropy a social endeavor — even amid the pandemic.

Barbara Keller created a Chittenden County chapter of 100+ Women Who Care in January. Described as a "charitable giving circle," the group plans to gather four times a year, when its members will donate $100 each to a nonprofit organization of their choice. It's a GoFundMe page come to life, with cocktails and small talk — virtually, for the time being. 

The more members, the larger the impact, said Keller and steering committee member Deb Caulo.

"I think people are pretty psyched about it," Caulo said. "It's really fun to be with like-minded women from all different walks of life."

A Michigan woman launched the original 100 Women Who Care group in 2006 after she successfully recruited friends to raise more than $10,000 to buy cribs for mothers in need. Chapters have since sprouted around the country. In Vermont, a Franklin County group predates Keller's. 

The coronavirus waylaid the Chittenden County launch, Keller said, but she and her friends ultimately recruited 25 women to participate. Each nominated a local nonprofit for the donation, and then they picked three finalists from a hat. 

Representatives from Generator maker space, Feeding Chittenden and Spectrum Youth & Family Services appeared at the group's first (virtual) meeting on July 28 and made their pitches. Members subsequently voted to donate their combined $2,500 to Spectrum, which provides young people with a variety of social services.

They also donated $100 to the other finalists, and some members gave extra money of their own to all three. That's the beauty of the giving circle, Keller said: Members learn about worthy nonprofits and get motivated to donate their money or time.

They've already added 15 new members and hope to have 50 by the next meeting on October 28. 

"I love that it's educational. I love that it's a big bang for your time — and the amount of money you give," Keller said. "Everybody, young and old, seems to like it!"

For more information, visit 100wwcvt.com or email 100wwcvt@gmail.com.

The original print version of this article was headlined "Giving Together"