That is how much the members of the 100+ Sun City Women Who Care have poured into the Beaufort and Jasper county communities surrounding Sun City.
Vicki Mack and Andy Hoerner introduced the idea for the group to Sun City residents at the annual 2017 October club fair after attending a summer meeting of the Bluffton chapter.
The 100+ Women Who Care is a nationwide organization that began in 2006. There are local chapters in Bluffton, Hilton Head Island and Beaufort, and Mack and Hoerner wanted to start one in Sun City.
“We were just so impressed at how organized they were, at how the checks were written, and how they were all turned over to charity, so it was exciting,” Hoerner said after the group had been approved by the Community Association.
To participate in the group, members commit to writing four $100 checks a year to the charity selected at each hour-long quarterly meeting. Members may nominate their favorite charity by submitting a form.
If there are more than three organizations nominated, the names of the groups go into a hat, three are drawn, and the person nominating each charity has five minutes to talk.
After the presentations, members vote for one of the three and the winner is the recipient of the checks.
Once an organization is selected, it cannot be nominated again for two years. With so many organizations in need, it is not difficult to find deserving recipients, from children’s support organizations to senior citizen programs.
The first recipient was Staying Connected, a service organization within Sun City.
Sun City required an initial minimum of 40 members in order to be designated a group. There are now 146, according to Mack.
“I think it’s grown by word of mouth. It’s Sun City women contacting Sun City women. I also think it’s because you can see $100 turn into $14,000. It’s huge! You’re part of something bigger than yourself,” said Mack. “I love Sun City, and I am always humbled by women coming together to make such a big difference in our community. It’s one of those things that even when you’re tired you go there and you get so much energy out of what we’re doing. And it hasn’t changed in five years.”
Supplementing donations to the past four recipients has been an additional check of $5,000 from the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation. This grant award was made available to the chosen nonprofits through a unique, invitation-only program of the foundation. Last year, 100+ SC Women Who Care group was invited to submit an application each quarter with information about the charity selected.
“The thing of it is we do this every three months for an hour, and what a difference it makes in impacting the community. That’s what I think is really cool,” Mack said. “The fact that we’re well over $10,000 a quarter and now we’re topping another $5,000 over that … it’s amazing.”
The organizations that have received checks from the groups include: Staying Connected, St. Stephens Community Food Bank, Beaufort-Jasper Volunteers in Medicine, Memory Matters, Blue Line Tails, Julie’s Mission, Bluffton Community Soup Kitchen, Hopeful Horizons, Backpack Buddies, Dragonboat Beaufort, PEP Programs for Exceptional People, Family Promise, Boys & Girls Club of Bluffton, LC COVID-19 Response Fund, HELP of Beaufort, Antioch Educational Center, Hospice Care of the Lowcountry, and Second Helpings.
PEP and Dragonboat Beaufort have been selected twice.
100+ SC Women Who Care will celebrate their five years of impacting the community from 4 to 5 p.m. Nov. 14 at Jameson’s Charhouse, followed by the quarterly meeting.
Appetizers, water and a cash bar will be available. Women interested in joining the organization are welcome and encouraged to attend.
Gwyneth J. Saunders is a veteran journalist and freelance writer living in Bluffton.