About 20 Grande Ronde Valley women met in the La Grande High School library Saturday afternoon not to discuss the latest bestseller by David Baldacci, but to help the less fortunate move on from painful pages of their lives to ones filled with hope.

The women, many of whom are familiar faces on the community service front, are members of Impact 100. One of Union County’s leading philanthropic organizations, the group marked a milestone under the skylights of the LHS library on Saturday afternoon. The meeting was Impact 100’s 15th annual gathering, during which the $12,750 raised over the past 12 months was distributed to families and individuals in Union County.

“It is always so inspiring (to see how generous people are),” said Impact 100 member Susie Harris, one of the group’s founders.

Harris and all Impact 100 members, nearly all women, each donate at least $100 a year to the organization. Any member is eligible to attend the annual Impact 100 meeting and help determine how the money raised will be distributed.

This year, those whom Impact 100 reached out to included:

• a woman battling serious health problems who was provided $2,450 for dental work

• a single father of young children who received $1,200 for dentures

• a mother who received $700 to help pay legal fees that in turn will make her eligible to receive a driver’s license

• a high school student who received $2,000 for dental work

• a new adult care home that was given $1,000 for renovations to improve handicapped access

• a family struggling to afford housing was given $650 that will allow them to move into an apartment

• a family in need will receive $250 for funeral expenses

Much of the dental work funded in part by
Impact 100 will be done by
local dentists who will provide discounts, said Patty O’Reilly, an Impact 100 member.

Impact 100 has given the Union County community $266,171 since it was founded in 2003.

Carol Lauritzen of La Grande, a longtime member of Impact 100, said the organization’s success is a tribute to the generous spirit shared by so many in Union County who make the Grande Ronde Valley a better place for everyone.

“If you support people in need, you support the whole community,” she said.

The objective of Impact 100 is to provide people dealt difficult blows the assistance they need to get back on their feet.

“These are people who just need a little step up. Just a little generosity can make such a difference in their lives,” said O’Reilly, who conducted the annual meeting with the help of her daughter, Katie.

Impact 100 member Carol Campbell said the organization’s annual meetings heighten awareness of people in the community who need help, because the organization is full of people “who have their ears to the ground.”

Andrea Waldrop, also an Impact 100 member, agrees, noting the meetings cause the group to be extra aware of the well-being and needs of people around them. Waldrop said it is inspiring to see how people dealing with struggles are impacted by the organization.

Evidence of the difference Impact 100 makes is apparent by what members see and what they do not see.

“We never see people come back (for additional assistance),” Waldrop said.

There is one exception, though.

“Some people (who have received assistance) come back as members,” O’Reilly said.

See complete story in Wednesday's Observer