100 Women Peterborough raises funds for poverty relief charity Bridges Peterborough

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Members of 100 Women Peterborough during their virtual meeting on March 15, 2022, when they chose Bridges Peterborough as the recipient of donations from members of the collective philanthropy group. Also pictured are Lynn Smith-Reeve, co-founder of Bridges Peterborough (second row, right) and Rebecca Turland, training transition team facilitator (second row, right). (Photo courtesy of 100 Women Peterborough)

In its first virtual meeting this year, 100 Women Peterborough chose Bridges Peterborough as the organization that will receive nearly $10,000 in donations.

A collective philanthropy group, 100 Women Peterborough met on Zoom on Tuesday March 15 to raise funds for an organization in need. Before the pandemic, the group met in person four times a year, with each member pledging to donate $100 at each meeting. The group met virtually during the pandemic, with attendance at meetings optional in recognition of the financial impact of the pandemic on some members.

Whether meeting in person or virtually, the group hears presentations from three organizations drawn at random from a larger list of organizations nominated by group members. The organization that receives the most member votes receives the donations made by group members.

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The three organizations that showed up at 100 Women Peterborough during Tuesday’s virtual meeting were Bridges Peterborough, Camp Kawartha and Teachers for Kids Charity, with Bridges Peterborough chosen by majority vote to receive the funds.

Stemming from Bedford House faith-based community ministry founded by Lynn and Allan Smith-Reeve, Bridges Peterborough strives to challenge current ways of tackling poverty. The organization responds to rising levels of poverty, growing job insecurity, rising opioid addictions, and lack of affordable housing.

Over the past five years, Bridges Peterborough has established Transition Teams, a small-group experience where under-resourced participants called “catalysts” strategize with middle-income mentors to build more stable lives. The organization has also formed The Company of Conversation Changers, a group of consultants with lived experience of poverty who provide advice and support to help facilitate the transition team process.

VIDEO: Bridges Peterborough’s Bridging Team Company of Conversation Changers Project

The donation from 100 Women Peterborough will directly fund the Relay Team program.

“Being part of a transition team gave me a sense of community,” says Rebecca Turland, who presented at the meeting about her work in The Company of Conversation Changers. “My self-esteem has improved and I’m earning a living wage which has eliminated the debt burden I was carrying.”

100 Women Peterborough was founded in February 2018 by Rosalea Terry, Catia Skinner, Wendy Hill and Alyssa Stewart, who were inspired by similar groups in other communities.

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“As our first meeting falls just after International Women’s Day, we are reminded that the work our group does to empower women in our community to effect change is more important than ever,” says Terry.

“Women are known to be passionate about the causes they support and the charities that come to present often come away with far more than the money that is donated,” she adds. “They now have an army of amazing women spreading information about their organization through their networks. It’s powerful.

The collective philanthropy movement began in the United States in November 2006, when Karen Dunigan of Michigan formed the group “100 Women Who Care”. After their first meeting, the women raised over $10,000 to purchase 300 new cribs for a local organization.

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The movement has grown over the past 16 years to include men’s, women’s, youth and children’s groups from around the world, with over 210 chapters in Canada alone.

Since its inception, 100 Women Peterborough has collectively donated over $135,000 to 16 local organizations: Hospice Peterborough, Peterborough Youth Unlimited, One Roof Warming Room, New Canadians Centre, Cameron House, Five Counties Children’s Centre, Casa De Angelae, Lakefield Animal Welfare Society, Community Care Peterborough, Kawartha Sexual Assault Centre, Community Counseling and Resource Centre, Peterborough Pregnancy Support Services, Heads Up for Inclusion, Kawartha Youth Orchestra, Peterborough GreenUP and Bridges Peterborough.

Women interested in joining 100 Women Peterborough should visit www.100womenptbo.ca for more information.

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