TERRE HAUTE —
More than 170 “women who care” have made a big difference in the lives of some people who might feel that few people care about them.
The Council on Domestic Abuse Inc. received $17,100 on Wednesday from the 100+ Women Who Care Vigo County committee of the Wabash Valley Community Foundation.
It was an unbudgeted, unplanned-for contribution that came about quickly as the result of a Feb. 6 meeting of more than 100 women who committed to donating $500 per year to help not-for-profit organizations or government entities that need a financial boost.
“It is absolutely a windfall,” said Gwen Tucker, CODA executive director. “The night I heard that CODA was a recipient, I had board members calling me at home excited about this. With nonprofits all over the state feeling the financial pinch, it makes a big different to have this kind of contribution from an organization.”
The majority of the $17,100 will be used to renovate CODA’s shelter, Tucker said. The funds will be used to replace carpets, beds and mattresses in the shelter, which is at an undisclosed location to offer safe refuge for people escaping domestic violence or abusive situations. The shelter can comfortably handle 15 people, but has room for 17 if trundle beds are also used. Women and children are housed at the shelter, but CODA also offers a safe haven for men at another location.
In 2012, CODA sheltered 130 adults and 126 children, totalling 3,696 nights that people stayed at the shelter. CODA also served 12 families — 12 adults and 22 children — at its transitional housing location on Hulman Street.
CODA has helped raise awareness of domestic violence and sexual assault in Clay, Park, Sullivan, Vermillion and Vigo counties for several years. The CODA office in the Vigo County courthouse served 1,197 victims in 2012, while assisting with 253 protective orders from the courts and 177 safety plans.
“Sometimes, the first stop for anyone needing assistance from CODA is our courthouse office,” Tucker said.
100+ Women member Martha Crossen, also a CODA board member, presented the $17,100 in funds at the CODA headquarters on Hulman Street. A few more promised donations are still to come.
It was Crossen who nominated CODA through the committee’s process of receiving nominations, selecting three organizations, then hearing a five-minute presentation about those organizations from the person who submitted the nomination. The group of women present then vote on who should receive the funding.
The two organizations who do not receive the funding are eligible to be nominated again at a future meeting of the group.
To participate, women need to commit to a $100 buy-in that goes to the community foundation’s endowment and commit $100 four times per year for the one-hour meetings.
It is a program modeled after similar groups around the country. Local leader Teresa Exline learned of the program from a friend in Blooomington, and shared it with Terre Haute leaders who decided to organize the effort locally.
“We knew that the idea had a lot of appeal,” Exline said, “because it’s so simple. But we had no idea it would have grown as fast as it has.”
More than 150 women signed up for the initial Feb. 6 meeting. Since then, more have joined, and even more are expected to join as the project grows.
“It’s incredibly exciting to see so many women wanting to engage in a wide variety of philanthropy,” said Beth Tevlin of the Community Foundation.
In the first meeting, 27 nonprofit organizations were nominated.
The next votes for the donations will take place on May 1, Aug. 7 and Nov. 6 at the Holiday Inn in Terre Haute.
Tevlin said the organizers were expecting to have about 75 to 80 women sign up for the initial meeting. But to have more than twice that number sign on was a good sign that people want to donate in a way that is efficient and effective.
“It is so easy to do this, and you meet a lot of people with similar interests,” Tevlin said.
The goal of 100+ Women Who Care is to provide more funding to nonprofit organizations.
There has also been interest expressed in a similar men’s group, and a couples’ group, she said.
Anyone wanting to join 100+ Women Who Care can get more information and an membership form at the group’s blog at 100womenwhocarevigocounty.wordpress.
Reporter Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812-231-4254 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @TribStarLisa.