Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Individuals make big impact together — Grassroots group pools financial resources to help neighbors in need

By Naomi Hagelund
For the Redoubt Reporter

Financial hardships are becoming increasingly common as the economy continues to struggle. Those without health insurance are struggling even more, and those who do have health insurance are finding it difficult to pay the health care costs not covered by their insurance plans. That is where Impacting Together steps in. A band of local residents dedicated to giving back to the community, Impacting Together met on Oct. 6 for their second meeting since the founding of the group in April.

The group was formed by Peggy Morris, Rhonda Larson and two other women. The idea occurred to them after hearing of a similar group called Impact 100 in Le Grand, Ore., formed by Morris’ sister. The group in Oregon was based on the idea that 10 women would bring in 10 more women each, and the group of 100 would donate $100 each and disperse it to people in need throughout the community. In the group’s first five years, it donated over $77,000.

The central peninsula group started with four people, but has expanded to around 20, with 65 people on the organization’s e-mail list.

The group’s goal is to help people in situations where the government or other organizations cannot. In April, a family had a child who needed medical care in Anchorage, but couldn’t afford the gas to make the drive. Impacting Together donated enough money for the family to get the child to Anchorage.

“I think we all have friends and neighbors that are just in a hard crunch at the time. We are going to see a lot more of that,” Morris said. “We donate money for groceries or gas or things of that type, so that these people know that people care.”

At the first meeting, the group donated $3,700. At the most recent meeting the group gathered $4,050 in donations.

“We’ve put over $7,000 back in the community between two meetings,” Larson said. “We are not a wealthy community, so that is awesome.”

At the last meeting, the organization helped a woman who had no health insurance get dentures. A young man with a minimum-wage job and no insurance was given enough money for the dental care he required. A man recovering from a car accident was given money to help with his growing medical bills.

“It’s amazing the variety of needs that have been met,” Larson said. “It’s a sort of need you don’t have to fill out an application for, it’s just your neighbor saying, ‘Hey, I’ve pooled my resources with the rest of the neighbors and this is how we can help you.’”

The group holds meetings twice a year, and anyone who donates $100 is considered a member. Members can nominate someone they know to receive financial assistance.

The next meeting is slated for March 9. All community members are welcome to join the organization. For more information, e-mail

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