Little did the board members of a cash-strapped day shelter know that while they were meeting to figure out how to provide food and transportation for 30 to 40 daily guests, a group of women was meeting at a Birmingham steakhouse writing $100 checks that would amount to $13,100 for the shelter.
“It’s a miracle,” said Dru Szczerba, the executive director of the Welcome Inn, a daytime safe haven for the homeless located in the Unity Church on Crooks Road in Royal Oak.
“We had a board meeting and we talked about how we were broke,” Szczerba said. “We didn’t know how we were going to survive. The next morning I got a phone call saying these women were going to give us money.”
Pat Teeley, a Royal Oak real estate agent, was one of approximately 110 women who met at Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar in Birmingham on Feb. 8 for one hour. Teeley is a member of 100+ Women Who Care, a national organization that brings woman together to raise money for charities in their community.
“100+ Women Who Care was started by Karen Dunigan (of Jackson, MI) as a way for busy women, who may not have time to volunteer, to get together and help out worthwhile causes,” Teeley said. “There are other chapters around the country but (Feb. 8) was our group’s very first meeting.”
How it works
The 100+ Women Who Care website explains the process for how the organization raises money efficiently and quickly for local charities:
- Each member must commit to donating $100 per meeting. The group meets four times a year. The next meeting is May 8 at 5:30 p.m. at Matick Chevrolet in Redford.
- The donations are given to worthy causes serving the Detroit area only. No national charities are considered. The purpose is for the contribution to stay 100 percent in the community.
- Each worthy cause that is under consideration is given five minutes to make a presentation at the meeting by a member of the 100+ Women Who Care, not by the charity.
- Three worthy causes are presented at the meeting. The group votes by ballot and majority rules. Each woman then writes a $100 check to the winner.
A nomination for the Welcome Inn, along with approximately 80 other worthy causes, was thrown into a basket at the meeting. The shelter was one of three charities randomly drawn, Teeley said.
Sue Hamilton, of Madison Heights, was the woman who nominated the day shelter. Only familiar with bigger national charities, Hamilton said she went to irs.gov and researched local charities. She came across the Welcome Inn and others.
On her way to the meeting Hamilton said she prayed, asking God, "Who needs the money right now?"
"I thought to myself, whoever needs the money the most is going to get it," Hamilton said.
Uncomfortable speaking in front of large groups, she gave a 5-minute presentation. When Hamilton was finished, Teeley spoke to the group about her experience with the shelter.
Teeley, a St. Dennis parishioner, said she learned about the Welcome Inn from her pastor. A few years back, when the real estate business was slow, she volunteered at the day shelter. When her business picked back up, she continued her support by cooking and bringing in meals for the guests.
“It’s just terrific that the Welcome Inn is the charity that won the vote," Teeley said.
A total of 131 checks for $100 were written. (Woman who could not attend the meeting sent blank checks in advance.)
The power of prayer
The very same night Hamilton was asking God who needed help the most, Szczerba was driving home from a board meeting praying for some sort of resolution to the Welcome Inn’s funding crisis.
“I really think this is a God thing. It was an urgent night,” Szczerba said. "The money is really a blessing. We are going to earmark it for transportation. We really need a new bus and money for fuel.”
The Welcome Inn transports guests several times a day in a gas-guzzling old SMART bus the center bought for $1.
“You should have heard the cheering when we told our guests about this,” she said. “I am worn out from being excited."
During lunch at the Welcome Inn Friday, 100+ Women Who Care presented the day shelter with a $13,100 check.
“As of last week, we had $12,700. In the last couple of days we had another $400 donated; $300 of that was from three different men who really wanted to help this organization,” said Karen Rashid-Balow of Beverly Hills, founder of the 100+ Women Who Care Motown Chapter.
On hand to receive the check on behalf of Welcome Inn were Szczerba and former executive director Roy Watson. Over 30 guests and several volunteers cheered as the check was presented.