Karen Barnes (left) and Kristina Craig share a laugh at an organizing meeting

Sitting in a circle with the seven women and organizers of the sixth annual 100 Women Who Care event is a bit like curling up fireside. The ambiance is cozy, intimate and undeniably supportive.

The answer “Because we care” resounds like a unanimous chorus, followed by laughter, when asked how Karen Barnes, Jacqueline Bedard, Lesley Cabott, Kristina Craig, Sally MacDonald, Anne Pleydon and Joy Waters got involved in the fundraising initiative.

“The event is just that, 100 women (or more) who are passionate about the community and who want to learn about community organizations and enjoy being in a room with other like-minded women,” Bedard said.

On December 13th, for one hour, from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., Yukon women are invited to gather for this event at the Gold Rush Inn in the Town Hall meeting space – which has been graciously donated by Northern Vision Development.

The concept of 100 Women Who Care may be simple, but the community impact is huge.

Each year, three different community organizations are selected to be the recipients of this fundraising event. The organizations’ projects range in focus from women, to families, to seniors and youth. The annual 100 Women Who Care event seeks to assist organizations that are about helping people, and the money stays locally in the Yukon.

Each woman who attends is encouraged to donate $100 (or as little or as much as she can) to one (or all) of the three community organizations.

Donations are anonymous and can be made individually, or collectively with a group of friends or coworkers.

The organizations give five to ten minute presentations and attendees are asked to donate to the cause that “makes your heart sing the most.” Though donations are encouraged, they are by no means mandatory, as the event is about women rallying together to show support and solidarity.Every year the names of the chosen organizations are kept under wrap until the event, as the value of 100 Women Who Care is about getting out into the community and connecting with people.

“The number one thing people say after the event is how incredible the feeling is in the room with all the women in the community,” Pleydon said.

“It’s about fun, learning, women and networking,” Craig said. “And to find out what’s happening in our community.”

Craig explained that many non-profit organizations have projects that are difficult to fund because the funding bodies have specific criteria. The beauty of 100 Women Who Care is that donated money is a gift to each organization.

“We recognize there are sometimes urgent needs where you don’t require tons of money, but the money at the right time and place can have a huge impact,” Craig said. “For those in a front line agency, it’s a hugely supportive and caring thing to have.”It was Karen Barnes, Yukon College president and vice chancellor, who was first inspired to create the initiative in Whitehorse six years ago after she attended a similar event in Lethbridge, Alberta. There are 100 Women Who Care alliances and chapters across Canada and the United States.

“There are lots of great projects going on beneath the surface that a lot of people don’t know about,” Barnes said.

She wanted to help bring some of these community projects into the spotlight, so Barnes contacted Kristina Craig, who, she said, is a “woman in the know” in terms of Yukon organizations, projects and campaigns.

“We had lunch and decided it would be a great idea, and we named these five women who would come onboard,” Barnes said with a smile, gesturing to the women surrounding her.

These seven caring women might not have known each other before starting the 100 Women Who Care Whitehorse chapter, but all were united by their longstanding activism in their professional careers and by their desire to give back to their community.

“For me it was having just retired after working in government for my lifelong career, and this seemed like a nice way to give something back while I was enjoying retirement,” Joy Waters said.

Anne Pleydon, who manages the social media aspect of the event, joined the group last year, after attending her first 100 Women Who Care event in December 2016.

“I was so inspired by the feeling in the room, I went up to Karen and asked if they have a Facebook or Twitter page, and said I would love to run that for you,” Pleydon said.

Of their organizing team, Barnes said they knew it had to be a highly efficient in order to garner the involvement of these busy women.“We made a pledge that we only spend an hour organizing the event and an hour doing it – and we manage to do that every time.”

Over the course of the last five years, the 100 Women Who Care event has brought in more than $35,500 to a diverse range of Yukon community organizations.

Though the event is organized for women by women, the organizers encourage similar fundraisers be started for men, families and children, as well. The premise is to gather as many people as possible together to raise awareness and to support a cause.

“We also want to say that the 100 Women Who Care are the women in the room, but also the people who like and share the Facebook group, who are spreading the word, and anyone who puts in a good word.”

The 100 Women Who Care event takes place Wednesday, December 13 from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the Gold Rush Inn. For more information go to the “100 Women Who Care – Whitehorse” Facebook page.

(l-r) Lesley Cabott, Sally MacDonald and Joy Waters are part of 100 Women Who Care. PHOTOS: Rory Wadham