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CARING WOMEN: Group Helps Metro Charities

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A local non-profit just got a boost for its new facility. Amanda the Panda Family Grief Center recently moved to the non-profit's new home in West Des Moines. Several organizations made the transition possible, including a group of women who care.

Cindy Meek, Program Coordinator for Amanda the Panda shows off the new digs saying, "It's a work in progress."

The new facility is located on Grand Avenue in West Des Moines. Meek says, "We moved in around February. This building used to be a Hospice of Central Iowa home." She goes on to say, "The entire building was gutted and we have pictures on the wall of how it used to be before we put in new cabinetry and flooring."

The Greater Des Moines Leadership Initiative made over the first floor. And, other groups stepped in to help the organization that provides comfort for grieving families through camps, activities and peer support groups. Meek says, "A lot of times families are looking for just that connection with another family who is going through a similar experience."

One of the new rooms called the new Adult Support Group room is made possible by a group of women who care. Founding Member Dotty Thurston says, "It's a group of women who've come together to try to support local charities in the Des Moines area."

Three women started 100+ Women Who Care three years ago. About 150 now commit to four one hour meetings a year. Sue Kenny says, "It's a great girlfriend’s night out."

Three members give a five minute presentation on a charity they're passionate about. Then, members vote for their favorite. Each woman writes a $100 check to the winning charity. Thurston says, "The totals are anywhere between $11,000 to $16,000 is what we end up presenting to each charity."

The group has presented checks to 12 local non-profits, adding up to $180,000 for the Des Moines community. Thurston says, "Even though I write a check for $100, I feel like I give that charity $12,000, really I feel like together collectively we make an impact on a charity."

The group is open to any women in the metro wanting to make a difference for charities like Amanda the Panda. Meek says, "It was very timely. We have a great need for help with our continued renovation, so we can serve more families."

The next meeting for 100+ Women Who Care is August 7th at Centro. It starts at 5:30 and ends at 6:30. Click here for more information. The group also inspired two others: Men on a Mission and Chicks for Charity.