Darien launches nonprofit that gives to charities

From left, Sarah Paquet and Katie Flynn are two of the six founders of a new Darien nonprofit called 100 Who Care Darien, which raises money for charities.

One hour. 100 people. $100 each.

Six people are behind a brand-new initiative in Darien that they hope will make a significant impact at Fairfield County charities.

They’ve started the new nonprofit organization called 100 Who Care Darien, whose goal is to contribute at least $10,000 to a charity at each meeting.

There are four meetings per year, and at each one, members nominate local charitable organizations that are close to their heart. A representative from the top three charities that are chosen will give a five-minute presentation at the following quarter’s meeting.

Votes are counted at the end of the meeting, and one charity gets selected to receive the donations.

“In an hour’s time, a charity walks away with $10,000,” said Darien native Katie Flynn, 33, one of the founding members of 100 Who Care Darien.

The first meeting of 100 Who Care Darien is May 1 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., at the Darien Community Association (DCA), 274 Middlesex Road.

“It’s going to be an informational meeting where everyone can hear about the charity,” said Flynn, a Stamford resident who works in the finance department at Charter Realty and Development in Greenwich. “We will go through how it works and pick out of a hat the three charities that will present at the next meeting.”

Each meeting will begin with a meet and greet. The executive director or representative from the prior quarter’s charity that received the money will come to the meeting and tell members how their donation impacted the charity.

Membership is open year-round. Meetings will last one hour.

“It’s a very impactful hour,” Flynn said. “This concept works so well. You maximize people’s time and their interest in the community and giving back.”

Volunteer options

Although only one charity gets selected at each meeting, all three benefit, Flynn said.

“All the charities are given the opportunity to present their mission in a room full of people who are looking to help,” she said, adding that, if they’re interested, members will learn ways they can volunteer their time at the charities.

100 Who Care Darien is part of the 100 Who Care Alliance, which has more than 600 chapters nationwide. While each chapter in the alliance is independent, the alliance provides resources and connects everyone.

The six founding members are: First Selectman Jayme Stevenson; Flynn; Flynn’s mother, Mary Flynn, a former member of the Darien RTM and the Board of Education, and past chairman of the Darien Parks & Recreation Commission; Sarah Paquet; Amy Bell, former Darien Board of Education member and executive director of the Darien Community Association; and Lulu McPhee.

Birth of an idea

Flynn first thought of the idea for the organization after hearing about a similar one in Wilton.

“My mother is the executive director of The Rowen Center (the Sexual Assault Resource Agency) in Stamford. Several months ago, they won a grant from a similar organization as 100 Who Care in Wilton,” Flynn said.

Flynn said she had never heard of the concept, did a lot of research, and included First Selectman Stevenson in the loop.

“When we learned about the ‘100 Who Care’ initiative and how it leverages the exponential power of individual giving, we knew this was something the Town of Darien and our neighbors would embrace,” Stevenson said.

“Making a difference”

Flynn said while “one person can make a difference,” being part of a larger group “can be a much larger difference — I love being a part of that.”

Flynn has volunteered over the years with several nonprofits: She served on the events committee for The Rowan Center, and volunteered, with Paquet, for Filling in the Blanks, an organization in Norwalk that provides meals for children over the weekend.

She said she’s looking forward to learning about all the charities that need our help and finding one that she’s “passionate” about.

“It will be special to be in a room with people who feel similarly about wanting to give back to the community, and I think that’s really exciting,” Flynn added.

“The extraordinary generosity of our residents is well-known and so greatly appreciated. We hope this new opportunity for group giving will appeal to people of all ages and giving abilities. It’s a great way for younger folks to begin a life of giving back to their community. Members will see the impact that their $100 gift will have when joined with the gifts of others to fund a $10,000 contribution to a Fairfield County nonprofit four times a year,” Stevenson said. “In addition, our members will be funding a Darien Community Association Scholarship to thank the DCA for hosting our gatherings. We know 100 Who Care Darien will be fun, social and impactful. Join us!”

For more information, visit 100whocaredarien.org or 100WhoCareDarien on Facebook.

sfox@darientimes.com