WILTON, Conn. — As a busy stepmom who works full time, Beth Kisielius of Wilton doesn’t have a lot of time to volunteer at the charities she cares about deeply.
But she has found a way to have a huge impact — with the click of a pen.
Two years ago, Kisielius and Westport resident Tracy Yost founded 100+ Women Who Care, a group of women who have raised $58,000 for eight Fairfield County charities in just eight hours.
How’d they do it?
“It’s all about really keeping it simple,” said Kisielius.
Four times a year, the group stages a one-hour meeting, and those gathered discuss three different charities selected by members. One woman gives a five-minute presentation on each organization and what it would do with a large donation.
Then the group votes for a charity to support that month. Majority rules and each woman present writes a $100 check to the charity.
The goal is to get 100 women at each meeting to make a combined donation of $10,000 four times a year.
The idea sprung from a Jackson, Mich., woman who raised $12,000 to help buy baby cribs for an organization back in 2006. Now there are more than 400 chapters of 100+ Women Who Care across the United States, Canada and Mexico.
Kisielius and Yost’s chapter is the first in Connecticut. Although they have a member list of more than 100 women, it’s a core group of about 70 to 75 who show up to meetings consistently.
Most new members are referrals from friends already in the group, but Kisielius said they’d be happy to welcome new women from across Fairfield County.
So far, the group has helped a variety of nonprofits, including Caroline House in Bridgeport, Project Return in Westport, Homes With Hope in Westport, Junior Achievement and the Center for Sexual Assault Crisis Counseling and Education, which serves Stamford as well as Darien, Greenwich, New Canaan, Norwalk, Weston, Westport and Wilton.
“Our mission and our hope is to provide for those in greatest need in our community,” Kisielius said.
The group’s next hour-long meeting is at 6:30 p.m. March 14 at The Pearl at Longshore, 260 Compo Road S., Westport. Members often arrive around 5:30 p.m. to mingle over cocktails, and some stay after the meeting for dinner.