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Fundraising group has high goals for giving
One of the group's networking images explains the mission of 100 Who Care Green County's fundraising goal, which is to raise $10,000 for local charities four times a year. (Image supplied)
MONROE - When the idea of a simple fundraising group came up in conversation between Monroe couple Brenda and Luis Carus, the real-estate agents pondered whether or not the next step should be taken.

Roughly one year passed before Brenda decided an investment in Green County was worth a try.

"I said, "we need to just do this,'" she said.

Three weeks later, armed with a logo hastily created with the help of Photoshop, a Facebook page, social networking and an idea, the Caruses met with 11 other people to host an easy night of giving in the Zwygart Century 21 Real Estate office. Brenda said the next time the group meets will be in the Monroe Public Library, but because of the short notice, their office was the best option for a meeting space.

The group, 100 Who Care Green County, is new but hopes to grow. Luis said the idea was borne of a successful effort by Brenda's sister, who began a chapter in Pearl City, Illinois. The rules are easy to follow. A group of people looking to donate monetarily to a Green County nonprofit organization meet four times a year to give $100. Then the group spends about an hour nominating organizations followed by discussion and a vote. The aim is to do the most good for one group with the help of people who may not be able to give volunteer time.

"It is so simple, some people find it mind-boggling," Brenda said. "But things don't have to be complex to be good."

The first meeting, which took place on Wednesday, brought in 13 monetary donations to go to Family Promise of Green County, a group dedicated to helping homeless families in the area. Brenda said the meeting of 11 people went well and discussion was balanced. People nominated groups like the Literacy Council of Green County, Monroe Theatre Guild and Big Brothers Big Sisters. In the end, Family Promise was chosen. The checks totaling $1,300 were to be presented to the organization today.

"Monroe is a great, giving town," Luis said. "We knew there would be people who would want to help."

The ultimate goal would be to donate $10,000 per quarter, or $40,000 per year, to nominated organizations. In order to achieve this, Brenda and Luis know they will need 100 people to become involved. But there are other benefits to 100 Who Care Green County, like how meeting to discuss nonprofits in the county helped some attendees to become more informed about roughly 100 or more nonprofits within the borders of Green County.

"It helps people see what they can do if they have the funding," Brenda said. "There's a lot of power in working together. Ten-thousand dollars can make all the difference."

Luis said the meeting helped others immensely by informing them on "things happening they didn't know about," and raising awareness of lesser-known groups who may be struggling financially with day-to-day costs. Originally from Madison, he complimented the people within Green County, calling the area "a gem" because of the helpful people. Brenda, who hails from Black Earth, said the couple's 16 years in Monroe have encouraged them to invest in the community. Both work as real-estate agents and own Pro Image Car Wash in Monroe.

They said they hope more people will attend the group's next meeting, which is scheduled for the evening of Feb. 22 at the Monroe Public Library.