Lately, I’m the town crier of missed appointments. I’ll look at the calendar and say, “Tonight was supposed to be the spring band concert,” or “This would have been Book Fair week at school.”
I’m not sure why. There’s nothing I can do about the cancellations, and some things will be rescheduled. When I tell Phil or Caroline what they’re missing, they shrug. I’m not that torn up about most things, either.
The passing of March 31, however, felt different to me. On that evening, members of Women4given were supposed to celebrate our tenth year. We would also mark the end of the organization.
Women4given had a great decade, bringing together a group of women who each pledged a dollar a day to support nonprofits that cater to the needs of women and children. We gave away $200,000. And it all started with one woman who wanted to make a difference.
My friend KO approached me back in 2010 to see if I’d be interested in joining a “giving circle.” I had no clue what that meant, but the idea is that you gather a group of people who want to make the world a better place, ask them to donate a set amount, and then give annual grants to nonprofits.
It sounded okay, I guess, but the world of women’s groups and fundraising and nonprofits wasn’t really my thing. Fortunately, KO is relentless.
So I showed up to the first service project with a twenty-month-old on my hip and helped make sandwiches for a local summer lunch program. Before I could say no, I was Women4given’s first president. Later, I became the executive director, always glancing at KO to make sure I was doing things right — it was her dream, after all. For five years, W4G was my unofficial job. In 2015, I stepped down from leading, knowing my friends would guide the organization with great care.
Pooling our resources together, we were able to support outstanding projects like these:
- We donated $13,000 to underwrite the “Brain Bin,” a computer suite with Chromebooks; an elementary-age library and quiet space; and the “Here We Grow” edible garden project for the Christian Activity Center of East St. Louis.
- We gave $15,000 to purchase computers, printers, classroom furniture, and school supplies for the after-school program at Leu Civic Center in Mascoutah.
- We granted $18,000 to completely renovate the kitchen and dining area, including new appliances, at St. John Bosco Children’s Center in Belleville.
We funded many other projects, like a dozen wells for villages in Africa, a mobile outreach program for grieving children, and a construction-business internship program to help young people earn a livable wage. I learned so much.
While the life of W4G has run its course, and I’m sad to see it go, I’ve reaped some lasting friends. Marsha Heffner succeeded me as president, then executive director. We made a great team, and I might have missed out on her friendship, if not for W4G.
KO has always had her ear bent toward God’s whisper, and I feel fortunate that she thought I might be interested in this thing called a “giving circle.” For everything, there is a season. There’s a time for every purpose under heaven. I’m thankful for the decade of Women4given. I think we made a difference – together.