Vero News

A powerhouse of women gather for Impact 100 Kickoff

VERO BEACH — Passionate entrepreneur Wendy Steele, who founded the original Impact 100 initiative in 2001, was the keynote speaker at the Indian River Impact 100 Kick-off Breakfast at the Community Church of Vero Beach. ” It’s so exciting to come into these other communities and see how they’ve made it their own,” said Steele as guests mingled prior to her presentation.   “There are now 14 Impact 100 groups around the country, and we’ve given away $12 million.  The efficiency of this particular group is a testament to the community leaders here.  When I look into my crystal ball for the future, I see huge growth.  I think it will be mind boggling.” Approximately 40 new members were in attendance, including a whole table full of friends who are active with the Homeless Family Center and the Hibiscus Children’s Center

“A large group like this can help Indian River County in ways that I can’t do individually,” said Linda Teetz when asked why she became involved.

“I love this; there are so many powerful women here,” enthused Fran Gilson, who said she was introduced to the organization by board member Suzanne Bertman.  “I was impressed with the amount of money they can donate this way, and with how they choose where the money will go.  I hope that with new people like me joining, they’ll reach 300 this year.”

Liz Mayo added, “I like the idea that culturally different women from all parts of society can make a big impact; I like the collaborative aspect of it.”

As guests sat down to breakfast, Indian River Impact 100 President Laura McDermott gave special thanks to corporate sponsor Wilmington Trust for their continuing support saying, “Wilmington Trust has believed in us from the very beginning.”

McDermott noted that other Impact 100 groups were impressed with the accomplishments of this initiative at a recent Impact 100 convention in Indianapolis she attended with Jane Coyle.  “They were frankly blown away.  I realized what a special place we live in and the philanthropic nature of our residents.”

Indian River Impact 100 is a completely volunteer driven organization, and 100 percent of member contributions go directly into transformational grants.  The fund is administered through the Indian River Community Foundation.

A video, scripted by Impact 100 member Martha Lemasters and created by James Mason and his videography students at Indian River State College, indicated just how far the organization has come in such a short time.

The group formed as Indian River Impact 100 in December 2008 and shattered its initial 100 member goal by enrolling 205 women.  Those members voted in the spring of 2009 to provide transformational grants of $102,500 each to the Treasure Coast Food Bank, for expansion of the “Backpack Buddies Program” and to CASTLE, to help purchase a new Indian River Family Service Center.

In 2010, membership increased to 232 members and grants of $116,000 each were awarded to the Harvest Food and Outreach Center towards the build-out of their Life Enrichment Center, and to Childcare Resources of Indian River to create an Infant Suite in the new Education Center.

In her presentation, Steele related the story behind her remarkably pragmatic idea – recruit 100 women to each contribute $1,000 which would be gifted to a non-profit organization, chosen by the group, as a transformational grant.

“I wanted to make it simple,” said Steele.  “Write your check and pool it all together.  It created something more than they could do on their own.  It invites women to the party that is philanthropy.”

Indian River Impact 100 has a goal this year of 300 members, and Steele said she has no doubt that it will happen.

“Your impact story is what you make of it, and what you’ve done is remarkable.”

While not obligatory, members are welcome to serve on its various committees.  The amount of the award(s) is dependent upon the number of people who join and the process is ongoing.  For additional information, visit  {igallery 299}

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