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Hundreds of Lincoln women and men who truly care about local nonprofits are helping them make a difference in our community.

They care so much, in fact, that in the first three years since the 100s of Lincoln Women Who Care and 100s of Lincoln Men Who Care groups were formed, they have donated a combined $330,000 to Lincoln’s nonprofits.

Because of their most recent donations, The Gathering Place is able to serve even more free evening meals to those who face hunger in our community. And Men With Dreams can empower even more of today’s youth to become men and women leaders of tomorrow.

“It’s an amazing thing that they’re willing to come together and put on that type of event and give to a nonprofit organization like ours,” said Brandon McWilliams, executive director of Men With Dreams, which won the vote at the Sept. 20 meeting of 100s of Lincoln Women Who Care to receive a donation estimated at $10,000.

A special young guest

A 9-year-old guest, Braxton Anderson, attended that Sept. 20 meeting to thank the 100s of Women group members for donating $10,000 to Tabitha’s Meals On Wheels program at a previous meeting. Despite major health challenges of his own – Braxton was born with gastroschisis (intestines outside his body), had multiple surgeries to fix the condition and has been on total parenteral nutrition (TPN, to receive food and medications through a central line catheter) his whole life – Braxton is concerned about others getting the proper nutrition they need.

What started as his donation of 12 quarters to Meals On Wheels quickly grew to $12,000 in less than two weeks, thanks to the 100s of Women group’s donation, combined with money Braxton collected riding his bicycle door to door to collect donations in his plastic Blue Ribbon Ice Cream bucket. As of Sept. 20, his donation to Meals On Wheels had surpassed $16,000.

According to Tabitha President/CEO Christie Hinrichs, Braxton was rushed to the University of Nebraska Medical Center a few days before the Sept. 20 meeting with a 104-degree fever. He spent the next days in the medical center while doctors determined the source of his infection, and he underwent surgery to replace his central line the morning of Sept. 20 – the day of the 100s of Lincoln Women Who Care meeting.

“He had no intention of missing this gathering tonight,” Hinrichs told the 100s of Women group at the meeting. “He told them he didn’t want to miss this shindig.”

How the groups work

Each woman or man who attends a 100s of Women or 100s of Men event donates $100, which will be given to a local nonprofit selected later that evening by the group. Attendees nominate local nonprofits, three are picked at random, three members pitch why each of the nonprofits deserves the group’s support, and then the entire group votes to determine the winning nonprofit that will receive the funds.

“It’s crowd funding,” said Kevin Schneider, an attorney with the Cline Williams law firm who is a co-founder of the 100s of Lincoln Men Who Care group. “We have a happy hour and hors d’oeuvres, and each of us donates $100 when we arrive. Basically, everybody agrees to spend $100 once a quarter. We decided early on that only local charities are eligible to be nominated for our donations.

“For the most part, on the men’s side, smaller charities usually tend to win,” he added. "The pitch generally includes specifics on how the charity will use the funds."

Those unable to attend a women’s or men’s group meeting can make a donation after the meeting.

About four years ago, Schneider and fellow attorney Stan Beeder, general counsel at Hausmann Construction, requested information from a 100s of Men Who Care group in Iowa City, Iowa, before recruiting 16 other co-founders to start the Lincoln group in May 2015.

The two men were also instrumental in forming the Lincoln women’s group by telling AshLea Allberry of Lincoln about the men’s group. Allberry, in turn, said she contacted her friend Brett Ebert, and the two women recruited 19 additional co-founders to start the 100s of Lincoln Women Who Care group in October 2015.

Benefiting nonprofits

Allberry said that to date, the women’s group has benefited the following nonprofits with donations: CASA, The Bay, Autism Family Network, Fresh Start, A Warmer Day, MilkWorks, No Footprint Too Small, We Care Endowment, Bridges to Hope, Tabitha Meals On Wheels, Child Guidance Center and Men With Dreams.

According to Schneider, the men’s group has benefited the Mourning Hope Grief Center, Aiding Angels, Friendship Home, Homer’s Heroes, Malone Community Center, Young Life, I’ve Got a Name, Food Bank of Lincoln, ARC of Lincoln, We Care Endowment, Royal Family Kids and The Gathering Place.

“It’s remarkable when our community comes together like this, and we are incredibly honored to be the recipient of these funds,” said Lisa Janssen, program administrator for The Gathering Place. “Such generous gifts will allow us to keep pace with the nightly demand for meals and support our efforts to provide the healthiest and most nutritional meals to those struggling with hunger.”

Janssen said that The Gathering Place served over 29,000 meals to those facing hunger in our community in the past year.

“The donation will help us serve more meals, and it will help increase the quality of the nutritional content in all of the meals served,” she added. “Specifically, it will help purchase more fresh content for the meals.”

How to get involved

The 100s of Women group’s next meeting will be at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 14, at Cornhusker Bank’s 84th and O streets location. The 100s of Men group's next meeting will be at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 15, at Duncan Aviation, 3833 North Park Road.

For more details about the groups or to join, attend a meeting or contact Allberry at aallberry@xpanxion.com or 308-627-3390, or Schneider at kschneider@clinewilliams.com or 402-479-7188.

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