Facing a group of Salmon Arm businesswomen, Carly Marchand-Jones begins to cry.
The Freedom’s Gate Equine Society owner is about to pitch her project to the approximately 50 women gathered for the 5th Shuswap Women Who Wine Community Giving Event.
When she and fellow presenters, representing other community non-profit organizations, are done, the event’s attendees vote to support Marchand-Jones’ project with a cheque for $4,960. The other two groups receive $620 each for their projects. The total sum represents $100 donations from each of the event attendees.
Marchand-Jones is grateful for the support she and other non-profit groups have received from Shuswap Women Who Wine, and is proud of the group’s organizer, Kailee Ramsell, and what she’s created.
“She started that group a couple of years ago… And for her to go from what it was to what it is now, it’s just amazing,” said Marchand-Jones.
Ramsell too is also pleased with how Shuswap Women Who Wine has grown, becoming both a force of charitable goodwill as well as a source of information and support for businesswomen. Ramsell explained it all began in 2017, when she relocated from Calgary to Salmon Arm and was looking to meet other people. Over a six-month period, a small group began to develop that would meet over appies and wine.
“When we reached about 20 members, we were like, OK, this is a group of like-minded, driven, community-focused people. We could be doing something more together,” said Ramsell. “So that’s when we decided to incorporate the quarterly community giving event.”
The first Community Giving Event was held last September. Ramsell said 38 people attended, donating $100 each.
“So we had $3,800 and we were astounded,” said Ramsell, noting the funding is divided three ways, with 80 per cent going to the presenting organization with the most votes, and 10 per cent going to the other two.
Since then, the group has grown to 50 members. In addition to the Community Giving events, they’ll meet to network, share information and assist one another. Ramsell says it’s like having 50 free business coaches.
One example she provides was a workshop hosted by member and Human Relations consultant Robyn Jespersen.
“For most of us, part of our business plans are to grow, and it was pretty clear… that a lot of us had been thinking about hiring help, like an associate or an assistant, but were kind of scared because we don’t know, you know, how do you build a job description, how do you build performance reviews, when do you give them raises, what are their rights, how do you fire somebody?” said Ramsell. “So that was really cool.
“I’m thinking, for people in business or people looking to get in business, at most of our networking events you’re going to come away with something that’s really going to help you make decisions in your business.”
As part of the Community Giving events, Shuswap Women Who Wine members learn about local non-profit organizations, from local food banks to the Salmon Arm Rescue Unit, and what they do. Ramsell says sometimes what these groups want most is more volunteers, and Women Who Wine members have stepped up on that front as well.
“I know a few members of the group that now volunteer with those organizations on a regular basis because they just didn’t know they needed so much help before that,” said Ramsell.
To learn more about Shuswap Women Who Wine, call 250-825-1137 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.