As of this year, 100 Women Lexington has donated half a million dollars to improve the lives of women and children in Kentucky.
In 2013, friends Kathy Plomin and Pat Gradek came up with a unique strategy for supporting non-profits who provide services to women and children. They envisioned an organization that could funnel funding from a single source, while still allocating donations based on each member’s individual choice. And so, 100 Women was born. Plomin, a three term-12th District Councilmember and former President/CEO of the United Way of the Bluegrass, says, “The intent was to build a wider net of local financial support from women for women. Our members allocate their annual dues of $1000 among ten local non-profits that provide essential services to women and children in our community. We just recently crossed the milestone of having raised and distributed more than $500,000 to these non-profits.”
Though in its current incarnation, 100 Women has only been in operation for seven years, its roots reach back to 2004 when a group of women joined forces to help fund a new domestic violence shelter after the YWCA’s local shelter was forced to close its doors. This effort resulted in the opening of Greenhouse 17, which now serves 17 counties, providing support, counseling, advocacy, shelter, and education to those affected by intimate partner violence.
Currently, there are ten agencies who receive continued support from 100 Women. Each chosen agency meets the criteria of providing services for women and children, being located in central Kentucky, and passing a “good giving” assessment set forth by the Bluegrass Community Foundation. The agencies currently supported include Arbor Youth Services, C.A.S.A., Child Development of the Bluegrass, Chrysalis House, Greenhouse 17, New Opportunity School for Women, One Parent Scholar House, Ampersand Sexual Violence Resource Center, Refuge for Women, and The Nest.
In addition to financial support, the members of 100 Women become advocates and ambassadors for the agencies, educating themselves and the community about each non-profit’s mission. According to Plomin, “At every 100 Women membership gathering, we have several agency representatives who attend and share updates on their programs and needs. As a result, there is a greater awareness of support services available for women and children in central Kentucky.”
Lori Clemmons, executive director of Arbor Youth Services states, “It is clear that 100 Women cares about kids. With their ongoing support of Arbor Youth Services over the years, we have been able to provide meals, clothing, compassionate care, and so much more to Lexington's most vulnerable youth. During such a trying year with the pandemic, these women prioritized supporting the community and provided financial support at a time when other funding was uncertain or decreased. We appreciate 100 Women and their dedication to Kentucky's kids.”
It is not just the agencies who benefit, but also the women who make up the organization and see firsthand how their contributions change lives. Asked about the most rewarding aspect, Plomin says, “I believe for our members, including myself, it has been the satisfaction to witness the collective impact our organization has had on our ten non-profit partners. The funding has been sustainable and is a resource the agencies can depend on an annual basis, and it is not restricted.”
In spite of the organization’s name, over 150 women have been members throughout the years. “We have an annual renewal process that usually occurs in the fall each year. However, due to the challenges facing non-profits this year, many members paid their annual dues earlier in the spring to provide much-needed funding at a very uncertain time,” Plomin states.
As with all organizations, the pandemic has limited 100 Women’s ability to meet in person, welcome new members, and mark their latest milestone. Plomin says, “We wish we could all get together to celebrate our half million-dollar achievement, however we are spreading the word to our community through resources like TOPS magazine and appreciate your support.”