In 2019, three West Shore women who wanted to make a difference came together with the goal of serving their communities. Through connection and community spirit, they’ve been able to make a huge difference — to the tune of $27,000 for local charities.
Blair Lefebvre, Sandy Cooper and Shaina Kelly began 100 Women Who Care Westshore, a new chapter in the global organization. The organization gathers women who want to make a difference in their community. The members nominate local charities to receive funding from the group, learn about the charities and vote to decide which one will be the lucky recipient. There are currently 40 official members in the group and, with each woman donating $100 to the chosen charity, they raise thousands in just 60 minutes.
Lefebvre says she saw the incredible work done by the Victoria chapter of 100 Women Who Care and thought, “If they can do it over there, why can’t we have one over here?”
She says with the West Shore growing so rapidly, “There’s no reason we can’t give back right to our community right here.” So far, the chapter has been able to give funds to organizations such as the Victoria Child Abuse Prevention and Counselling Centre and the Help Fill a Dream Foundation.
The members of 100 Women Who Care West Shore see each other four times a year for a one-hour meeting. Previously, meetings were done over tea, coffee or wine. But to be cautious of COVID-19, the meetings are currently being held over Zoom. Lefebvre says that although virtual meetings are a different experience, the energy remains the same.
“It’s a pretty incredible hour,” Lefebvre says. “When you hear these charities speak of what they do and what they would use the money for … it honestly makes you cry. It’s just, it’s crazy.”
Lefebvre says these meetings have opened her eyes to the “unsung heroes” of her communities. She says most people have no idea what kind of work volunteers and charities are doing.
According to Lefebvre, part of what makes 100 Women Who Cares so special are the friendships that have been made between women who otherwise wouldn’t have met.
“We’ve got mothers, we’ve got businesswomen, we’ve got grandmothers,” says Lefebvre. “There’s no [actual] specific type of woman.”
Volunteer member Gail Blais says the idea of women banding together was what appealed to her. She says she wanted to be more aware of what was happening locally and appreciates the positive feeling of being able to give back.
“I think that it shows people that small donations do matter,” says Blais. “People think, ‘Well, does my $10 really matter? Does my $100 really matter?’ Well, it all does matter.”
Moving forward, Lefebvre says she would love to have as many members as possible join the group and wants to see donations as large as $20,000 in one meeting.
“It’s a great opportunity to get women and like-minded people together and learn about our community, learn about the people in it … and help out, give right back to our community,” says Lefebvre.