Impact ‘sisterhood’ making a difference

In just a few more months, newly formed Impact 100 St. Lucie will award its inaugural $100,000 grant to an organization. That grant – large as it is – will be transformational, per Impact 100’s mission.

But these ladies have a bigger goal in mind.

Impact 100 St. Lucie has a membership of 123 at last count and hopes to grow to 200 before year’s end so that the members can choose two worthy projects to fund.

For those unfamiliar with the Impact 100 concept, it’s an organization with sister chapters nationwide. Locally, there are chapters in Indian River and Martin counties. St. Lucie is the newest one to form.

Membership is limited to women only, who make an annual $1,100 donation. The $1,000 donation is collected for the $100,000 grant awarded annually. The remaining $100 goes for administrative costs as the organization gets settled.

Each of the members gets one vote on the grant finalists. The goal is to have at least 100 members – which funds the $100,000 grant. If St. Lucie’s chapter can gain another 77 members, it will be able to award two $100,000 grants. If not, then the runners-up for the Impact Award will split the remaining funds.

Debbie Butler, co-founder of the St. Lucie chapter, got the idea after approaching Impact 100 Indian River for a grant for a project she was working on in St. Lucie County.

Butler didn’t get the award but the concept of a sisterhood of like-minded women helping the community struck her. “It’s a truly transformational organization,” Butler said. She approached friends and colleagues and the tiny seed of an idea sprouted into a full-fledged endeavor. Over the course of a little more than a year, Impact 100 St. Lucie’s membership grew from a meager 10 to more than a hundred.

“So many took the leap of faith,” Butler said of the members, many of whom she had never before met and probably would never have if not for Impact 100.

“We’re becoming a little competitive now,” she said. The upstart St. Lucie chapter is eyeing both Martin and Indian River in terms of growth. Indian River’s chapter was established a decade ago and has 400 members. “In 10 years, we can double that,” Butler said with confidence.

The competition, Butler said, is a healthy one. She said the St. Lucie chapter is grateful for the assistance it has received from their sisters. They are “women of light,” she said.

Despite Impact 100’s adherence to women-only membership, Butler said men are welcome to support in a non-membership role. They can sponsor a woman member, donate toward administrative costs, and otherwise help get the word out about the organization. “We call it a sisterhood – a women’s movement,” Butler said. “It’s them, not their husbands.”

As for the potential recipients of the inaugural Impact 100 award, an organization will be selected whose proposed project fits into one of three categories. Those categories are: Education and Literacy, Health and Wellness, and Poverty, Homeless Prevention and Living Wage.

Nonprofit, 501(c)3 organizations are encouraged to submit a Letter of Intent to Impact 100 St. Lucie no later than Feb. 5. In January, Impact leaders will host a community meeting explaining the process and invite interested groups to learn more.

That meeting has been scheduled for Jan. 22 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the Indian River State College Treasure Coast Public Safety Training Complex, Frank & LeVan Fee Building, 4600 Kirby Loop Rd., Fort Pierce.

For more information about Impact 100 St. Lucie, visit the organization’s website at www.Impact100SL.org.

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