Ahead of International Women’s Day on March 8, we thought we’d check in with a local, women-run organization which is generating thousands of dollars for the betterment of the Whistler community.

A group shot of the members of 100 Women Who Care Whistler with a cheque for Whistler Arts Council.
This is what happens when women get together. PHOTO ALYSSA RAE PHOTOGRAPHY

Since its inception in 2019, 100 Women Who Care Whistler (100 WW) has raised $227,700 for Sea to Sky, community-based charities and not-for-profit organizations. The spectrum of people they’ve helped is broad, from Search and Rescue teams to animal shelters, young adults with developmental disabilities to supporting a children’s choir and oral history project.

“The biggest thing is the easiness of it,” says founder, Ashlie Girvan. “We’re giving around 10 to 12 thousand dollars four times a year. The big numbers blow people away. They don’t expect that a one-hour meeting can make such a huge impact, but that’s how it works.”

100 Women Who Care is a global entity and when Ashlie came across it she knew that time-poor women like herself, who wanted to give back to the local community would appreciate its simplicity as well as its impact.

I want to be part of making my community better. It’s where my family is growing up, it’s where my friends are.  I found this idea and one hundred percent knew that women in Whistler would want to be part of it. I’ve done fundraising before and it’s always taken a huge amount of my time and relied heavily on local businesses. But this isn’t an arduous process. Together we give money. Together we make a decision. Together we make things better.”

A speaker from Whistler's animal shelter, WAG, presents at a meeting.
A speaker from WAG presents to the group at one of 100 WW’s quarterly meetings. PHOTO COAST MOUNTAIN PHOTOGRAPHY

How 100 Women Who Care Works

To become a member you commit to donating $100 and attending an hour-long meeting four times a year. That’s a $400 per year commitment resulting in around $40,000 worth of yearly donations. Each meeting agenda includes three, member-nominated charities presenting their need for a financial donation. The attendees then vote (the majority wins) and a cheque is presented to the selected organization.

“Our membership ebbs and flows,” explains Ashlie. “But we usually have between 93 to 136 members. We’re lucky to have some incredible sponsors that cover our admin costs, so 100% of the donations can go directly to the organization chosen.”

Ashlie and Kourtney present a cheque to the Lil'wat Nation Youth Centre.
The organizations funded have to be from the Sea to Sky. PHOTO COAST PHOTOGRAPHY

Hats off to local business (and huge success story), Nonna Pia’s, the current admin sponsor along with Fairmont Chateau Whistler, Whistler Creative and Encore.

“By pooling our donations we’re able to make a big impact for these local organizations,” says Ashlie. “It means they can buy a much-needed piece of equipment or run a program. To see our impact at work is incredible.”

Back in November last year, the recipient of $12,300 was the Whistler Independent Supported Housing (WISH) Society. WISH’s mission is to establish secure housing within Whistler for young adults with developmental disabilities, providing a supportive future, one where they can live healthy, happy, safe lives in the town where they grew up. The funds donated from 100 WW will be seed money to make this mission a reality.

“WISH Society has been around for about four years, but we’re still young in town and finding our feet,” explains Sue Hargrave, Chair of WISH’s Board of Directors. “We thought it was a long shot, but it was a chance to raise awareness. In our presentation, I spoke from the heart and when we recieved the cheque we all jumped out of our seats cheering.”

WISH Society accept a cheque from Ashlie and Kourtney at the November, 2023 event.
The WISH Society accept the last check of the year in 2023. PHOTO 100 WOMEN WHO CARE WHISTLER

Well-established, larger organizations run alongside ones just starting, and Sue went on to say that she appreciates that the presentations don’t allow for elaborate visuals, “it levels the playing field”. Another thing about this funding is that while proposals may be based. there aren’t many restrictions on its usage, unlike other grants which might be very specific.

“I’ve been part of 100 Women Who Care Whistler since 2019,” says Sue. “It’s a powerful group to network with. I enjoy my time with these women, they know and love this town, and the money we raise together changes lives.”

A photo of five of the members sitting at the event desk at a meeting.
Members donate $400 per year and attend four presentation-style meetings. PHOTO COAST MOUNTAIN PHOTOGRAPHY

Ashlie mentioned that although it feels great handing over a cheque, it’s always a hard decision to pick just one.

“We’ve had instances where our members have felt so strongly for an organization that perhaps didn’t receive the funding, they’ve found other ways to get money for them.”

Ashlie went on to tell me that when a member didn’t get the one she voted for she told her employer and they decided to donate the ten thousand dollars. On another occasion, a large company coming to Whistler for a conference reached out to the organization as they’d decided to do donations instead of swag bags that year.

“It’s incredible to see the ripple effects of what we’re doing,” says Ashlie. “I’ve learned a lot through this process. Hearing the presentations is powerful. Sometimes you don’t know the initiatives that are underway or fully understand them until you hear them speak. Minds get changed in those meetings all the time.”

Ashlie and Kourtney present a cheque to Families Fighting Cancer in the Sea to Sky.

A huge thank you to Ashlie Girvan and her wing lady, Kourtney McKercher, and to the members of 100 Women Who Care Whistler for giving so much to the Sea to Sky community. If this has inspired you, consider becoming a member.

Happy International Women’s Day, for what’s happening on March 8 this year, check out the Whistler.com events calendar.

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You can often find Dee exploring all Whistler has to offer with her three-kid tribe in tow. Originally from the UK, Dee enjoys balancing out high-thrills adventures with down-time basking in the beauty of the wonderful place she now calls home.