Philanthropy-minded group 100 Good Women grows beyond its name

Jennie Washburn, board member for the local charitable group 100 Good Women, admits that the organization’s name is a little deceiving.

In fact, membership is nearing 500 women.

“And a few men,” Washburn adds.

For the past 16 years, the loose network of philanthropy-minded Lawrencians have pitched in on a variety of projects — from building a Habitat for Humanity house to providing furniture for a single mother whose home burned down.

“We act as a community … that’s an example of what community should be,” Washburn said. “Neighbors helping neighbors.”

When someone in the group hears about a need in the community — maybe a family needs help with Christmas gifts or assistance buying diapers — a phone and email tree is activated. And usually the group is able to meet the need, Washburn said.

A few years ago, the group also started Women Speak, which coordinates events — such as a showing of the play “Vagina Monologues” — aimed at increasing dialogue about women’s issues.

Mary Howe of Lawrence has been involved with the group since the beginning, and said it’s a great way to make a difference without necessarily making a long-term time commitment.

“It’s a great way to do quick, on-the-fly things,” Howe said.

Social worker Lydia Diebolt saw the positive impact the group made in Lawrence. As director of Centro Hispano, Diebolt helps her clients utilize the organization.

“They’re very responsive,” said Diebolt, who joined the group six years ago.

The crew tries to stay stress-free about their philanthropic obligations, one of the reasons the group has been around so long, Washburn said.

Members have a “no-guilt” policy. No one really monitors who pays dues and who doesn’t, and 100 Good Women eschews monthly meetings, opting instead for the occasional potluck or event.

Pitching in on a particular project is an individual choice, but Washburn said, “the satisfaction you get when you help someone out” is usually enough incentive for members.

For more information, visit the group’s website at