What happens when you bring a group of women together to make a positive change for a community?
To quote Margaret Mead, the well-acclaimed American anthropologist, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
The Midland 100 Club reflects this attribute and over the past ten years has spurred positive change in the community.
The group started in 2009, when a few women in Midland came together under the leadership of Bobbie Arnold, President and CEO, Charles J. Strosacker Foundation, to form the Midland 100 Club. What started with a small group of women meeting at picnic tables in Emerson Park, has grown to an impressive organization with broad impact on the community.Midland 100 Founder Bobbie Arnold speaks during the May meeting.
Ten years later, the group has grown from a handful women to more than 480 strong – a true asset for Midland and enriching the region as well. Forty-seven local non-profits have benefited from this group over the years, with cash contributions, including matching grants, totaling more than $835,000.
“The Midland 100 Club is an opportunity to learn more about your community and the work being done to help us all. Being part of something that impacts so many people is positive and empowering. The energy and spirit in our meetings keep us coming back and bringing our friends”, says Bobbie Arnold, founder of the Midland 100 Club.
Three meetings are held each year in January, May and September with members contributing $100 at each meeting to worthwhile nonprofits. Leading the meetings is volunteer chair, Tina Van Dam, who directs the group with sincerity and purpose. "She is the driving force of the Midland 100 Club. Without Tina, we would have probably folded a couple of years ago," stated Arnold.
To celebrate the 10th anniversary, a group photo was taken with close to 200 members in attendance at the Midland City Hall. The next day on May 1, the group held its spring meeting at the Midland Center for the Arts to a standing-room-only crowd honoring the past and sent the group striding together into the next decade.
Members were welcomed into the building with bright balloon bouquets and a “Walk of History” display of posters from almost every partnering organization that has received the 100 Club funding over the past ten years. The displays told the story of how the group’s contributions enabled each of them to achieve their varied missions while making the community a better place for all.
“At our meetings the group votes from four nominations of non-profits from its members over the course of one hour. A five-minute pitch results in more than $20,000 for each of the two groups chosen. All of the gifts from members go directly to the charitable organizations as the 100 Club is run entirely by volunteers,” says Van Dam, the volunteer chair. “It is a very simple model that delivers a big impact. Can you believe only three hours a year, with $100 a meeting from each member, it gets us to this significant result in only 30 meetings? That is an average of almost $28,000 per hour, including the matching grants.”
In addition to the money given to the selected organizations, club members have also been generous in curbside at their meetings. Eighteen organizations have benefited from donations that include clothes, toiletries and food.
Tina Van Dam leads the meeting, which produces over $20,000 for two local nonprofits.
Before proceeding to the group’s celebratory anniversary reception, Van Dam gave a virtual toast: “To all the women of the Midland 100 Club and those who follow us. May your generous and kind hearts reflect the better community we continue to build together.”
At the reception, members mingled to celebrate the opportunities that have been awarded to the organizations and the thousands of people impacted over the past ten years. Member Shannon Krueger commented the impact membership has made on her to be involved with the group. “I so enjoy the Midland 100 Club and there is such a power when the room is filled with women who want to do good in their community. I look forward to our meetings and their simplicity... there is wisdom in the simplicity.”
To be eligible to receive funding, an organization must have a current 501(c)3 status and be located in the region and benefit Midland County. Among the many organizations who have been assisted by the Midland 100 Club during the past ten years include:
The Center for Women’s Health of MidMichigan Health, Back Pack Buddies through the Midland County Emergency Food Pantry, Midland Community Diaper Bank, North Midland Family Center, Early Childhood scholarships through Midland County ESA, Midland Family and Children’s Services, Salvation Army, Midland’s Open Door, Shelterhouse, ROCK Youth Center, His Hands Auto Care, Caregiving Network, Looking Sharp Fund of Midland Public Schools, Alzheimer’s Association of Central Michigan, The Arc of Midland, LEAP Program at Adoption Option, Creative 360, Midland Cancer Services, Windover High School, Railway Family Center, Children’s Grief Center, the Humane Society of Midland County, For a Brighter Tomorrow, Friends of Whispering Pines, Midland Symphony Orchestra, Disability Network of MidMichigan, Pivot Point Appliance, Big Brothers Big Sisters and Midland Community, Former Offenders Advocacy and Rehabilitation (MCFOAR), Sheriffs Community Awareness Team, Fostering Hope in Michigan, The Legacy Center, Affordable Legal Care, Bullock Creek Band, Safe & Sound, New Hope Village, Midland Country Foster Closet, The Bridge and Project 111.
Women interested in joining the Midland 100 Club should email Midland100Club@hotmail.com.