November 22, 2017 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

When the weather reached 91 degrees on July 18 last summer, many people didn’t think of anything other than cool drinks and swimming pools.

Amy Dorton and 59 other women were thinking of something else—specifically, which charity was most deserving of their money this summer. The members of 100 Women Who Care of Omaha gathered at College of Saint Mary for one hour to hear the details about three different charities.

Amberly Wagner Connolly told the group about Healing Embrace, which works to raise awareness and support for families who experience miscarriages or infant loss.

Stacey Goodman spoke about the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization.

Dana Lauritsen presented on Miss Amazing, which provides opportunities for girls and women with disabilities to build confidence and self-esteem in a supportive environment.

The group voted on NAMI, and each member present gave a $100 check to the organization.

“It was a neat experience to have the group select that,” says Goodman, who has been a member of the organization for about two years. “Part of the joy is just sharing the information. It is humbling to be a part of something so much greater than yourself.”

That humble experience is what motivated Karen Dunigan of Jackson, Michigan, to start the 100 Women Who Care in the mid-2000s in her hometown. The idea is for 100 women, who may not be able to donate thousands of dollars on their own, to come together and each donate $100 per quarter to a charity they agree on, turning $100 that may only go towards office supplies into $10,000 that can make a true impact to a local organization.

Dorton and her longtime friend Regan Smith learned about 100 Women Who Care through Reagan’s mother, Marti Doyle, who started a chapter in Fort Dodge, Iowa, in early 2014. By summer that same year, Reagan and Amy had started a chapter in Omaha.

That first meeting included about 50 women. Their membership now includes 71 women from the metro.

The group presented a check for $6,000 to the board of NAMI on August 23. NAMI is using these funds through the next three years to implement a new program called Ending the Silence, in which NAMI goes into area middle and high schools to give classroom presentations on mental health.

The $6,000 donation brought the total amount 100 Women Who Care of Omaha has given to local charities up to $85,650.

“Regan and I are extremely proud of our members,” Dorton says. “Their generosity and commitment to making a difference are inspiring. When women come together, our impact is unstoppable. Not many of us could do this alone, but as a group we have the power to instill positive and concrete change in our community.”

The winter meeting will be held January 23 in Mercy Hall at College of Saint Mary. This coming April the group will meet for the 15th time, and they hope to achieve the goal of having 100 women at that gathering.

From left: Regan Smith and Amy Dorton

Visit @100womenwhocare on Facebook for more information.

This article appeared in the Winter 2018 issue of B2B.