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100 Women Who Care continues its support of area nonprofits

Mark Parker

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From left: Willa Powless (leadership committe), Tricia Manning (leadership committee), Christina Noordstrom (co-founder), Jennifer Stracick (executive director of ALPHA House, Lauren Brigman (co-founder), Lacey Miller (leadership committee) and Pamela Arbisi (leadership committee). Photos by Mark Parker.

Thanks to the generosity of the local women that comprise 100 Women Who Care St. Petersburg, representatives from three local nonprofits received thousands of dollars to support their missions Thursday night.

The St. Petersburg Women’s Club hosted the first 100 Women Who Care event of the year at its historic waterfront ballroom in Snell Isle. The fundraising events, held quarterly, feature three area nonprofits carefully selected from a list of 20 nominees by a search committee. Attendees are required to leave $100 at the door to raise a $10,000 prize.

Representatives from the nonprofits have five minutes to convey why their organization is most deserving of the money, followed by a question and answer session. Attendees then vote on the winner that – and according to Christina Noordstar, co-founder of 100 Women Who Care – is an unenviable task.

“We always say, ‘I don’t know how we’re going to get 20 applications of local nonprofits – all across the board – down to three,’” said Noordstar. “But then we have the three in the room tonight, and we are going to narrow down to one.

“So, it’s a tough job – and it’s your job tonight.”

Noordstar kicked off the festivities by announcing the nonprofit receiving the most votes would take home $15,000 due to a private donor’s 50% match. The three nonprofits participating were A Door of Hope, 360 Eats and ALPHA House.

While all three nonprofits gave passionate presentations on the value of their organizations to the community, and why they were deserving of the $15,000, the female philanthropists chose ALPHA House as the night’s big winner.

Jennifer Stracick, executive director for ALPHA House, explained how her organization provides housing and support for pregnant teens, women and new mothers with infants. Stracick began her presentation by relaying her deeply personal story as a young single mother trying to escape a bad situation at home. Her lack of a safe, stable environment led to her putting her son up for adoption.

“If I could have been an ALPHA girl, I might have been able to keep my son,” said Stracick. “So, that’s our goal. Provide permanent housing, make them feel good about themselves and provide aftercare, so we can follow them for a year after in case they need any assistance.”

Stracick said the funding would help provide daily nutritious meals for the girls in ALPHA House, noting that the food budget is over $17,000 annually.

When organizers announced ALPHA House as the winner, Stracick let out a loud shriek and was visibly emotional.

Unbeknownst to the nonprofits, donations from two members of the search committee allowed the second and third-place finishers to walk away with $2,500 each.

From left: Ellen and Cameron Macleish, founders of 360 Eats, Tricia Manning, sponsor of the award and Lauren Brigman.

Cameron Macleish, chairman of 360 Eats, received the second-most votes. He explained the idea for his organization came after he witnessed a group of people searching through a grocery store dumpster for food. His organization’s mission is to create a sustainable food system free from hunger and waste.

Macleish said that over 1 million pounds of good, edible food are wasted in Tampa Bay each day, while 1.3 million people are considered food insecure. He hopes to improve both statistics by saving food, serving food and growing food.

Macleish said 360 Eats partners with food establishments, grocery stores and farms and utilizes a team of volunteer, professional chefs to prepare food out of a licensed, commercial kitchen. He said the organization’s success lies in its mobility, and volunteers deliver nutritious meals to partner sites throughout the county.

Over the last year, said Macleish, 360 Eats prevented 40,000 pounds of food from ending in the trash and served over 10,000 meals. The nonprofit has also transformed 14,000 pounds of food scraps into compost to help grow more food.

“That’s just with a small group of volunteers and a reliable Toyota Prius,” said Macleish. “With tonight’s generous donation, 360 Eats will be able to purchase a reliable cargo van that would drastically increase our working capacity for years to come.”

Based in Pinellas Park, A Door of Hope’s mission is to provide kids in crisis with loving, Christian foster families in Tampa Bay. The state contracts the organization to visit churches throughout Pinellas County in the hopes of recruiting, training and licensing families to support children in foster care.

From left: Godly Daniel, executive director of A Door Of Hope, Lauren Brigman, and award sponsor Pamela Arbisi.

Executive director Godly Daniel said that roughly nine kids are removed from their homes every day in Tampa Bay due to neglect or unsafe environments. He said there are simply not enough foster families for the number of kids without a safe place to call home, and 59 children in Pinellas County are currently waiting in office buildings.

“These kids are given 15 minutes to pack up everything that’s important to them in their life,” explained Daniel. “It’s placed into a garbage bag, and the police officer takes them to a government office where these children wait for foster homes.”

Lauren Brigman co-founded 100 Women Who Care with Noordstar and said the program launched in March 2020, nearly simultaneously with the onset of the pandemic. She called going from not knowing if the program would survive the pandemic to raising over $100,000 in the first two years “epic.”

“We thought, let’s just do whatever we can and try and make it work,” she said. “We realized just because the pandemic was happening – people still wanted to help people.”

For more information on 100 Women Who Care, visit the website here.

 

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1 Comment

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    rose hayes

    March 9, 2022at7:26 pm

    Thank you ladies very much. I am familiar with Alpha House and they do some really good work there.

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