This is the third of several stories that lead up to the May 9, 2018 Albion Community Foundation Gala celebrating 50 years since the foundation started in Albion.
By LINDA KOLMODIN
November 21, 2019
ALBION AREA WOMEN TO TOP HALF MILLION IN GIVING
ALBION-It’s “simple” math.
Take 100 women.
Add giving hearts.
Multiple by four and then by 12 years.
$500,000 in charitable donations from the Albion Area Philanthropic Women (AAPW.)
Making the Albion area a better place is the focus of this charity group which gathers every three months to make a difference in their community. Founded in 2007 by Cathy Campbell and the late Maggie Konkle, this giving circle started with a simple idea. Konkle and Campbell would each ask five friends to give $100 quarterly for one year to donate to non-profits. The idea caught on and the number has grown to about 100 women committed to pooling their donations to make a substantial impact on non-profits needing funding.
Campbell tells a favorite story that Konkle had an idea in the middle of the night to form this giving circle. “I had to wait until daylight to ask friends,” Campbell said. However, every woman she asked said yes. They kept asking others and the philanthropic women’s group was born with more than 60 founding members. They met and the first donation went to the Albion District Library for the Dolly Parton Imagination Program to provide books for pre-school children.
The latest gift of over $10,000 went to downtown beautification through the Albion Community Foundation’s Restore Our Coke Sign fund. Prior to that the Sheridan Township Jaws of Life received funding, as did a music program at Harrington Elementary School and the Bohm Theatre for an emergency heating and cooling repairs.
At the next meeting on Dec. 10 at 5:30 in Tennant Hall at the Albion United Methodist Church the group will have collected over half-million in donations. All women are encouraged and welcome to join this group. Women are asked to bring a check for $100, and $10 for the lunch, but funds will all go to a non profit organization that will be decided at the event.
AAPW is only $7,000 away from this remarkable donation accomplishment. “It’s kind of a big deal,” Marcia Starkey said, current tri-leader of the volunteer group.
Starkey who shares the leadership duties with Gwen Tabb and Nancy Roush, said the milestone will be honored by Homestead Savings Bank which will pay for the group’s buffet dinner. Usually the members pay for their own lunches or dinners, Starkey said. There are no expenses to run the group because it is all done by volunteers who willingly give their time before and during the quarterly meetings.
Starkey explained that usually five non-profits can ask members to sponsor their requests at each of the four yearly meetings. Representatives or the AAPW members speak for three minutes about the funding need. After all groups have presented members vote on slips of paper, the vote is tallied and the organization with the most votes is awarded the money. There are no by-laws, no officers, no overhead and donations are directly given to the non-profit at the end of the meeting.
The only rule is that once a non-profit. receives funding it can’t ask again for one year. Non-funded organizations can continue to request an unlimited number of times. Mae Ola Dunklin, former Albion College director of teacher development, once asked eight times before she secured funding for the Maemester teacher preparation program. She explained that there are so many worthwhile funding requests it is difficult to choose the recipient. In the spirit of continued giving additional collections are often made for other requests by “passing the hat” at the meeting.
As the community has benefitted from the philanthropy of its women, the circle of giving has expanded with a Men Who Give group inspired by AAPW. More members have joined the women’s group including the next generation of young philanthropists who will sustain AAPW in the future. Groups have started in neighboring towns. The ripple effect continues.
It took a vision, caring hearts and commitment to community to create and sustain the Albion Area Philanthropic Women.
$500,000 in giving back IS a big deal.
Linda Jansen Kolmodin, a resident of Albion since 1981, is originally from North Muskegon Michigan. She was a special education teacher for Olivet Community Schools for 18 years and has had a variety of jobs related to public relations and writing since that time. Most recently, she was the catalyst for the successfully funded Coca-Cola mural restoration project for downtown Albion Michigan. She is involved in many Albion organizations including the Albion Community Foundation and the Albion-Homer United Way. She is a graduate of U of M, with a Master’s Degree from EMU in Special Education.
This story is reprinted with permission from The Recorder.
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