After seeing the initial successful launch of a women’s philanthropy group, several local men have decided to start a Lower Columbia chapter of 100+ Men Who Care in Cowlitz County. They are also the first to start a men’s chapter in the state of Washington.
“Everybody around this area likes to help, but they don’t know how,” said Lonnie Knowles, one of five organizers. “This is basically the easiest and quickest way for people to learn, be educated about what’s going on, and to donate and make a serious impact in one short evening. It’s an easy-peasy thing.”
The group, modeled after the Lower Columbia chapter of the women’s philanthropic organization 100+ Women Who Care, will meet four times a year with the goal of raising $10,000 at each meeting for a local nonprofit of the group’s choosing. The men’s group has 25 members and is looking to grow, according to the organizers.
The two local groups are part of an international organization with more than 400 chapters of men, women and children.
Each member commits to donating $100 or more at each meeting. The meetings include a one-hour social hour and one-hour business meeting. Organizers draw names of three random nonprofits out of a hat, and members who nominated those nonprofits give a 10-minute speech about why that nonprofit should receive the funds. The members vote for their favorite, which gets all the money raised at that meeting. The other two get thrown back into the hat for the next meeting.
The organizers are hoping to encourage other cities and counties in Washington to follow their lead.
“That’s what I liked about it too … to be an opportunity for people to give money to a cause without all the frills and other things involved,” said Jason Meunier, an organizer, Community Home Health & Hospice worker and ambassador for the Kelso-Longview Chamber of Commerce. “A bunch of people of like minds get to speak their voice with their $100 pledge and then it all goes to one of a number of good causes locally.”
Organizers also said it provides a way for community members to learn about different organizations and charities. Some of the organizers said they attended the women’s group’s first meeting with their significant others and learned about several new nonprofits in the area.
The Lower Columbia Chapter for 100+ Women Who Care raised almost $12,000 at its first meeting in early January for Janus Youth’s Cowlitz County Street Youth Outreach program to purchase an outreach vehicle.
“The real why is the ladies went first … It just created the opportunity, and we only compliment each other and the winner of all this is the direct, local community,” said Jeff Wilson, an organizer and a Port of Longview commissioner.
Mike Wallin, a real estate broker and Longview City Council member, and Russ Meder, owner of a local advertising agency, are the other organizers of the group.
The men decided not to become a nonprofit like the women’s group, and are strictly volunteer-based. It will only accepts checks and money orders for that reason.
The men’s first meeting will be held from 6:15 p.m. to 8 p.m. March 15, at the Regent Chinese Restaurant at 3353 Washington Way in Longview. More information and membership is available at www.100mwcLowerColumbia.com or at www.facebook.com/100menwhocarelowercolumbia.
“You’re not selling someone to go to an event to raise money for a particular charity. The fact that it’s open to all qualifying charities locally, that can just encompass so many people in this county that have a giving nature,” Meunier said. “Anybody that has a charitable inclination here can feel welcome.”
Contact Daily News reporter Denver Pratt at 360-577-2541 or firstname.lastname@example.org