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Neuenschwander: Extraordinary response for 100 Extraordinary Women campaign
Gary Neuenschwander
Gary Neuenschwander

Extraordinary women.

Ask anyone and they can probably name several.

But the Monroe Public Library has taken it to a new level — they can name 104 Extraordinary Women without batting an eye.

Together, those 104 women pledged $121,000 to jumpstart the Monroe Public Library’s $1.5 million “Let’s do Something Extraordinary for Monroe” capital fundraising campaign.

The idea is the brainchild of Jodi Sweeney of The Sweeney Group of Madison who helped plan, develop and execute the campaign with a core group of library followers. The concept is simple: Find a minimum of 100 women to pledge or donate $1,000 over three years to the campaign. By the time you have 100 women, you’ve generated your first $100,000 toward your goal.

Response here has been, well, extraordinary.

“Women from throughout Monroe have committed themselves to the library’s future by leading the campaign,” said Suzann Holland, library director. “Some families donated multiple times to honor multiple women.”

Both Sweeney and Holland are quick to point out the success of the venture belongs to a sub-committee of the campaign — the 100EW Committee — who “brought their unique experiences and circles of contacts together to invite participation in this critical first step.”

“This has been a unique way for women in our community to come together to support a renovated library in Monroe,” Holland said. “Public libraries have never been just buildings with books, but destinations for lifelong learning. The library is one of Monroe’s most important assets — it’s the heart of the community — and we want it to be the best it can be.”

That sentiment rang true with strong endorsements from respondents:

● “I consider my participation in 100EW an investment in my community’s promise.” — a donor

● “I participated in 100EW for future generations to have the opportunity to grow in knowledge through the gift of words, in a welcoming and safe space.” — Ellen Hossman

● “The quality of a community’s Library speaks ‘volumes’ about the concern of that community for learning, for enrichment, and for general community sharing. It’s a true honor for me to be able to participate in the 100 Women Campaign for our marvelous Monroe Public Library.” — Barbara Woodriff

● “Without libraries what have we? We have no past and no future.” — Ray Bradbury

Funds generated from the initiative will be targeted to renovate the circulation area and will include a list of all names of those who participated. “Some are in honor of, some are in memory of,” according to Holland, “but all of them will be part of the community’s effort for its library.”

Holland said she has been overwhelmed by community response to the campaign which will bring badly needed renovations to the 25-year-old library building. “We want everyone to be part of this campaign as we truly do something extraordinary for Monroe.” Those wishing to make a contribution may send them to Holland at the library.

The campaign is going extremely well, Holland said, and “we are close to our goal, but not quite there.”

She is hopeful to reach the goal by late June. If so, the campaign will earn the match gift offered by Klondike Cheese and Colony Brands,” she said.

“We were nervous about launching our campaign just as COVID hit,” Holland said. “But I was quickly able to relax a bit as I saw the immediate enthusiasm for the project with the 100 Women Initiative and overall response from the community.”

Extraordinary, indeed.

— Gary Neuenschwander is on the Campaign Committee for the Monroe Public Library’s “Let’s Do Something Extraordinary For Monroe” project.