Essex women pool resources to make an 'Impact'
Essex women pool resources to make an 'Impact'
Mollie Shauger , Staff Writer, @MollieShauger 3:49 p.m. ET June 16, 2017
(Photo: Photo courtesy of Selma Avdicevic)
Women across Essex County are joining forces to support organizations making a difference in their communities.
Impact100 Essex is an all-volunteer philanthropic organization that is part of a broader organization with 40 chapters, most of which are in the U.S. Two are based in Australia.
Members pledge to give $1,000 a year, which goes toward a $100,000 grant to a local nonprofit or program.
To achieve that mission, the Essex chapter, which just formed in March, is working toward a goal of at least 100 members by June 30. On Thursday, the chapter was just 15 members - and 15 days - short of that target.
Montclair residents Selma Avdicevic and Lee Heh Margolies, two members of the steering committee for the Essex group, were surprised but excited by how quickly interest in the organization has grown.
Members are recruited largely through personal connections, the duo explained. Different women host meet-and-greets, inviting friends and friends of friends to learn about the organization. Members decide how much they want to become involved in the organization.
The women live in towns throughout Essex County, though a large number come from come from Montclair, noted Avdicevic. Ages and generations differ, as do the professions. There are retired women, women on their third careers, and those who work in fields such as media, government, law, and investment banking. Many are mothers and activists within their own communities.
Avdicevic and Margolies have been involved from the start. They spoke of the collective energy of a diverse group of women wanting to do something positive in their communities.
The Essex chapter came to be not long after two major political milestones that seemed to have a ripple effect across the nation.
"After the election and inauguration ... we all felt we should do something for the community that is good, something that will cause an immediate and positive impact in a community, that is in no way related to any of the news we are hearing," said Avdicevic, emphasizing that Impact100 Essex is nonpartisan.
"After the Women’s March, we women in general really saw the power of being with other women and doing something positive and effective, and meaningful and powerful," observed Margolies. "I think the genesis is just women being the drivers of philanthropy, and women making an impact in a meaningful way," she said.
Members do not have to live in Essex County to join. However, the grant will go to an Essex County organization.
Potential recipients apply for the grant, and after what the organization calls "a careful review process and presentations by finalists," members vote on the awardee.
There are two other New Jersey chapters: Impact100 Garden State and Impact100 Jersey Coast. Together they have distributed more than $900,000 in grants to charities serving veterans, or those feeding families and aiding domestic violence victims, according to Impact100 Essex. Across the U.S., more than $33 million has been raised since 2001.
"Essex County is home to hundreds of nonprofits who long to strengthen or expand their mission. A nonprofit applying for a $100,000 grant must propose a program that is both transformative and sustainable," stated Helen Mazarakis, grant committee chair for the Essex group.
The idea right now for the Essex branch is to issue a grant once a year, but depending on the membership and money raised, the organization could give more, according to Avdicevic and Margolies.
Margolies described Impact100's model of giving as "more personal."
As often happens with larger charities, "you kind of write the check and you don’t really know where that’s going, and you don’t know how it’s funding that group," she said. "This we will see directly, and it’s right in our backyard."
"There is really no lack of philanthropic efforts or organizations in Essex County," Avdicevic acknowledged. "People have always been extremely generous, especially in Montclair, from what I can see in my experience."
In a statement, Margo Greenfield, organizer of Impact100 Essex, said Impact100 offers a "hands-on approach to giving." "Collectively pooling our resources, we can make a significant impact in a way we could not have otherwise as separate individuals," Greenfield said. The Community Foundation of New Jersey, a nonprofit organization, provides technical and administrative support to Impact100 Essex. For more information or to join, visit impact100essex.org (http://impact100essex.org). Email: email@example.com Read or Share this story: https://njersy.co/2tbnGoR