It wasn’t the usual quarterly meeting for Vernon’s 100 Women Who Care (WWC).
The group which has 150-plus members regularly meet four times a year to raise funds, donated by the membership, to local non-profits and charities. They have three charities come and speak to them – charities nominated by the membership – and after the presentations, members vote on which charity to give the collected funds to directly.
In the seven years they’ve been doing this, Vernon 100 Women Who Care has raised and donated more than $260,000 for local charities.
But on Tuesday, Aug. 22, at the Kalview Cafe at Okanagan College in Coldstream, it was a different meeting.
Given everything that has happened in the Okanagan and Shuswap since mid-August in relation to wildfires, the women wanted to do something else.
“We had to figure out how to help all of those people affected by the fires,” said Judy Rose in a poignant video posted to social media. Rose is joined on the WWC organizing committee by Angelika Jaegar, Jamee Moffat and Noelle Crombie.
“We were pleased to see 50 members come out to the (Kalview) cafe and have a special, organizing, real, vulnerable, willing, open conversation on what we can do.”
Vernon businesswomen Lisa Gallie from Big Sun and Allison Ludditt of The Room Collection, who spearheaded the donation drive and opened a donation centre on Kalamalka Lake Road, talked to the Women Who Care about what they were doing for the evacuees and firefighters.
Richelle Kendall joined in – her mother is a member of the Vernon Elks Lodge, which was also taking donations for the victims – and Kendall got a hold of Michelle Collins, whose husband is a firefighter with the BX Swan Lake Fire Rescue Department.
“We, the 100WWC committee, were a conduit between what happened organicially with Big Sun, The Room Collection and Richelle Kendall,” said Rose. “They got involved on the Saturday (Aug. 19), we met Tuesday night with 50 of our members, raised more than $9,100 Tuesday night (with a private donation of $4,500), and put out a call to our membership, via email, to donate $100 or more by Friday.
“Bannisters gave $5,000 and our membership flushed out the rest for about $21,000, which if you remove the $9,500 of private donations, leaves an approximate $12,000 raised by our membership alone. In four days. Serious magic.”
Kendall was a key element, said Rose, in the actual delivery of goods to the front lines, working 12+ hours a day using a van donated by Vernon Hyundai to get snacks and electrolytes to the firefighters.
Moffatt and Crombie “shopped ‘til they dropped,” said Rose, anywhere in town they could find supplies for the evacuees and the fighters.
Meanwhile, the women who set up the delivery centre on Kal Lake Road have announced via social media that they have stopped taking donations.
“With full hearts and an almost empty donation centre, we are wrapping up our operations,” wrote the women. “We hope to move the remainder of the donations to the Shuswap evacuees and firefighters.