This is what more than 200 women making a difference in their community looks like. Tinkess Photo

WINCHESTER – The first 100 Women Who Care group was formed in November 2006 in Jackson, Michigan. In the spring of 2024, the North Dundas 100 Women Who Care have taken that number and more than doubled it and seem to believe there is no reason why the number couldn’t go even higher. Much higher. It is that enthusiasm that makes this method of raising money so amazing.

North Dundas 100 Women Who Care, met recently at the Joel Steele Community Centre in Winchester for the purpose of making a difference.

Diane Crummy, the group’s Chair welcomed everyone to the meeting. “I wish you gals could see what I’m seeing up here,” said Crummy. “Take a look around. We’ve got here your wonderful group of caring women who have joined to make a difference in our community and who should certainly be celebrated, because for four years now, you have eagerly jumped on the bandwagon for this event, and it’s all about caring.

“It’s very exciting to once again, both meet and welcome all of you who care enough for North Dundas to sign up and be here to learn about the needs of our community’s groups. We’re also very thankful for those who could not attend tonight, for sending in your donations ahead of time, bravo to you.”

Four charitable groups were on hand this evening seeking support. They were House of Lazarus, Dundas County Hospice, The New Dundas Manor, and Carefor Nor-Dun. Each would have approximately ten minutes to make their presentation, and the order of the presentations was randomly selected. House of Lazarus were first, followed by Carefor Nor-Dun Support Centre, The New Dundas Manor, and Dundas County Hospice.

Each of the four groups present are worthy of support, and in their presentation, they highlighted the needs they faced and what they hoped to accomplish should they be selected.

Cathy Ashby, the Executive Director of House of Lazarus sought funding for their Operation Backpack program, which each week supplies 78 children with a backpack filled with nutritious food on a Friday to supplement food provided by their family over the weekend.

Sheena Stoqua, supervisor of care presented on behalf of Carefor Nor-Dun Support Centre and explained their need to purchase a Generac generator to help deal with power outages, which can lead to damages from food spoiling or water build-up.

Cindy Ault Peters and Cholly Boland, presenting on behalf of the New Dundas Manor gave an update on the progress of the new construction, but explained the locally raised portion of the cost is still being collected, and if they were selected, the funds would go towards that.

Finally, Cindy Morgan, a board member for Dundas County Hospice explained that due to funding cutbacks, the adult day program, which had been a part of Hospice for almost 20 years was in risk of being eliminated.  The program gives people living with life limiting illnesses, an opportunity to relax and enjoy the company of people who are experiencing similar challenges. Being selected would mean the program would be saved, at least in the short term, as $10,000 is the cost of funding the program for one year.

At the completion of the presentations, the members of 100 Women Who Care proceeded to select the group of their choice by secret ballot. As there were far more than 100 women participating, more than one group would see their ask being fulfilled.

With the votes tallied, Stormont, Dundas and South Glengarry MP Eric Duncan, a board member explained that there would be two groups who would receive what they had requested and that a third group might receive some funding, depending upon how many pledges were ultimately collected. The third-place group was Carefor Nor-Dun.

MP Duncan then announced the second group, Dundas County Hospice, were selected and as a result would receive the full $10,000, they requested.

At that point MP Duncan turned the mic back over to Diane Crummy who announced that the first-place group, House of Lazarus would also receive their $10,000 request.

Cathy Ashby, House of Lazarus’s Executive Director expressed her gratitude.

“We’re so thankful this programme just keeps growing,” said Ashby. “Unfortunately, the needs are there, and this will really help us to be able to continue the program for families in this area. We surveyed our food bank clients and 32 per cent are going whole days every month with their so the need is definitely there.

“24 per cent of the people coming to our food bank are working people, but their expenses are just going up, it has not picked up, and people just can’t make ends meet. As I mentioned, last year, Food Bank visits went up 50%. So that’s huge. And it’s just thanks to the generous community that we’re able to keep up with that, to keep helping the people who need it.”

Dundas County Hospice board member Cindy Morgan was just beaming at having been selected. She was asked how it felt when she realized that their request had been met.

“So happy, so excited and thrilled that the adult day programme is going to continue,” said Morgan. “Like that was a huge relief really in a lot of ways. It’s hard to make up for funding and it’s getting cut with so many places. Everybody has to struggle a different way, so there was a huge sense of relief there for sure.”

Diane Crummy, in closing, took a moment to make sure that those in attendance realized just what they had accomplished. Really, it happens so quickly, and it would be understandable if it took a few minutes to sink in.

“I’d like to leave all of you with a couple of thoughts of you and this evening,” said Crummy. “It’s been said giving is not just about the donation. It’s about making a difference. So, I have no doubt you women have accomplished that tonight. And in the words of Maya Angelou, I think a hero is any person really intent on making this a better place for all people. So, you’re all heroes, because just think about the number of people you’ve helped out here and have made a better place for tonight.”