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‘Women Who Care’ donate $17,200 to Brainerd lakes area nonprofit

Women commit to donate $100 four times a year to a nonprofit organization for the good of our communities

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Nearly 200 women gathered Oct. 18, 2021, at The Woods in Merrifield to donate money to a Brainerd lakes area nonprofit, which turned out to be Pohl Children’s Scholarship Foundation, as part of the 100+ Women Who Care Brainerd Lakes Area event. Contributed

“Surreal.”

That’s how at least two women described an hour-long event that raised $17,200 for a Brainerd lakes area nonprofit.

“The emotion was the immediate, positive impact we can have for an organization. It was overwhelming,” said Denise Laudenbach, who along with Shawn Hansen talked about the 100+ Women Who Care Brainerd Lakes Area event.

The event saw 187 women show up in person Monday, Oct. 18, at The Woods in Merrifield, which donated its space to the cause.

The Pohl Children’s Scholarship Foundation received the money raised at the first quarterly event. This nonprofit supports people struggling through the illness of or grieving from the loss of a child or loved one.

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"The emotion was the immediate, positive impact we can have for an organization. It was overwhelming."

— Denise Laudenbach


Here’s how the 100+ Women Who Care event works:

  • Women ages 18 and older join a local group called Women Who Care Brainerd Lakes. Visit “Women Who Care Brainerd Lakes” on Facebook or email womenwhocareBLA@gmail.com for information or to join the group.

  • Women who join commit to paying $100 per quarter ($400 per year) as a donation to a nonprofit located within a 35-mile radius of the downtown Brainerd water tower. Two women can partner to donate $50 each per quarter ($200 each per year).

  • Each woman (or each two-woman team) who commits can submit one nomination for a nonprofit organization to receive the money raised.

  • Three nominated nonprofit organizations are chosen through a random raffle drawing.

  • The person whose name is on the card for nominating that nonprofit gets 3-5 minutes to talk about the organization.

  • Each woman (or each team) then votes for one of the three nominated nonprofits by filling out a card and placing it in one of three ballot boxes.

  • Ballots are tallied with the top vote-getter receiving all funds raised through the event.

“The goal is to collect money ahead of or at the event,” Hansen said, noting there’s no checkbook and no board of directors; it’s simply an hour-long event where each participant writes an independent check directly to the winning organization.
“You’re allowing people to positively impact the community without a huge commitment of time,” Laudenbach said.

Since the October event, at least 20 more women have committed to the cause for a total of more than 200 women ahead of the next quarterly event - Monday, Jan. 17, at The Woods.


"If you know in your heart this is something that’s going to be positive for our community, make it happen. This is what kindness looks like."

— Denise Laudenbach


The two other nonprofits drawn randomly at the first event were the Mid-Minnesota Women’s Center in Brainerd, an emergency shelter for individuals experiencing domestic violence; and Camp Benedict, a camp that serves people impacted by or suffering from HIV and AIDS.

The winning nonprofit must wait five years before being nominated again.

“We have so many amazing nonprofits,” Hansen said. “This brings awareness to an entire group of women to the nonprofits in our area.”

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Laudenbach and Hansen first had an idea to gather people to help area nonprofits in 2018, but life got busy and the idea got put in a drawer. Then after Laudenbach recently visited The Freedom Ranch south of Brainerd with a donation from the Nisswa Lions Club, they decided to pull that idea back out of the drawer.

“I walked out of there and it was life-changing,” Laudenbach said of the organization that provides a safe home for victims of human trafficking. “I called Shawn and said, ‘This place needs our help.’”

They decided that now the time was right to launch an ongoing fundraising program to help lakes area nonprofits, with people needing something uplifting after the COVID-19 pandemic. They decided to follow the national 100+ Women Who Care idea.


"Don’t underestimate the power of positivity. There was nobody in that room with an agenda except to do good."

— Shawn Hansen


They put a post on Facebook simply inviting women to come talk about doing something good, and 49 women showed up on a July day at Jack Pine Brewery in Baxter, which donated a free space for them to meet.

“They came on a whim. They had no idea what they were getting into,” Hansen said of the women, noting they raised $3,000 in free will donations then and there.

From there, the 100+ Women Who Care idea spread by word of mouth and through Facebook.

Laudenbach and Hansen look forward to the next event in January.

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“If you know in your heart this is something that’s going to be positive for our community, make it happen,” Laudenbach said. “This is what kindness looks like.

Hansen added: “Don’t underestimate the power of positivity. There was nobody in that room with an agenda except to do good.”

Nancy Vogt may be reached at 218-855-5877 or nancy.vogt@pineandlakes.com. Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@PEJ_Nancy.

Nancy Vogt is editor of the Pineandlakes Echo Journal, a weekly newspaper that covers eight communities in the Pequot Lakes-Pine River areas - from Nisswa to Hackensack and Pequot Lakes to Crosslake.

She started as editor of the Lake Country Echo in July 2006, and continued in that role when the Lake Country Echo and the Pine River Journal combined in September 2013 to become the Pineandlakes Echo Journal. She worked for the Brainerd Dispatch from 1992-2006 in various roles.

She covers Nisswa, Pequot Lakes, Lake Shore and Crosslake city councils, as well as writes feature stories, news stories and personal columns (Vogt's Notes). She also takes photos at community events.

Contact her at nancy.vogt@pineandlakes.com or 218-855-5877 with story ideas or questions. Be sure to leave a voicemail message!
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