Volunteer of the Week: Joan Lyons, of Dowagiac
Joan Lyons, of Dowagiac, is the cofounder/proprietor of the Heddon Museum. Lyons is a board member and one of the founding members of the Cass County 100 Women Who Care.
What is 100 Women Who Care all about?
We are an organization dedicated toward helping nonprofits across Cass County, and just getting women together and raising funds. The whole point is for people to give names of nonprofits they are aware of. We’re always looking for more names. We don’t always know who is out there so we’re always looking for help in that area.
How often do you meet?
We meet quarterly. We’ve been moving around county…sometimes we meet in Dowagiac, sometimes Cass. The next one is in Edwardsburg.
What have been some of the nonprofits you have donated money to so far?
There’s been Cass County Cancer [Services], there’s been the United Way, there’s been the St. Paul’s Food Pantry, there’s been DASAS [Domestic And Sexual Abuse Services].
How do all of you select nonprofits at each meeting?
It’s a very interesting process…whoever comes to the meeting submits a name to a hat or a bowl. Three names are picked — they have to be three different ones. Then the person who submitted the name will stand up and tell us about the organization. Then everyone gets another piece of paper and votes on whichever one they would like to contribute to. Then we make a tally and whoever gets the most votes gets the money. Everyone who comes brings a check, and we make it out directly to whoever wins…there is no money that changes hands in the organization. It goes directly to the group that wins.
How long have you been a member?
Since we started [in October 2013]. Kim MacGregor [with Dowagiac’s Edward Jones office] was the one who started it — it was her idea. She started asking around for people to be on the board and I said yes, of course. It’s a very good and very interesting concept.
What has been the most rewarding part about your participation in the organization?
Knowing that we’re helping people in the community.
Is there anything you would say to encourage other local women to join the organization?
We have it set up so that an individual can join, and we ask that even if you can’t make the meeting that you find out who the recipient was. As a member, we are all supposed to donate four times a year. We also know that everyone can’t donate $100 quarterly, so we have it set up that you can be a team of two with one vote and donate $50 each or a team of four and donate $25 each, to try and help those in our community.
The meetings are very short. We start at 5:30 p.m. and we are always out by 6:30. The meetings are short and to the point. We know people have busy lives so we keep it right to the point.