COLTS NECK, NJ: On Tuesday at 11:30 a.m. on January 29th, Marie and Cortney Costa, mother and daughter owners of A Country Flower Shoppe and More in Colts Neck, welcomed a group of special women into their home to host a membership drive information session about a unique charitable organization; Impact 100 Jersey Coast.

It was a casual luncheon, a gathering of like-minded women all there for the same purpose, to talk about giving back to where it is most needed locally.  

Impact 100 Jersey Coast, is a local chapter of a national women's charitable organization. It is unique in that it follows seven steps of success in truly providing a powerful impact for qualified charities, with regard to a special project the applicant charity proposes to be involved with.

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The Impact 100 model works like this:

1) Gather a collective group of women 2) Each woman donates $1,100. 3) Local nonprofits submit applications for high impact projects 4) Committees review applications, perform site visits and choose finalists 5) Finalists present projects and members vote 6) Impact 100 grant(s) awarded 7) Grant recipients provide periodic progress updates to members.

The $1,100 donation is a tax-deductible donation with only $100. of that going to administrative and necessary expenses for Impact 100. The remaining $1,000 goes directly to the grant money to be donated to a charity project. The $100 fee is new for 2019. In 2018 there were 336 women who joined and donated $1,000 each, for a straight $336,000 donation to 3 charities. The $100. administrative fee is new to 2019 and goes only for expenses. The group remains 100 percent volunteer. 

Marie Costa comments, "As soon as we heard about this wonderful organization we knew we had to be a part of it. You can truly see the benefits that Impact 100 Jersey Coast is providing to our communities. I have met so many wonderful dedicated women, many of whom are in my home today. It's a real grass roots organization we personally and professionally are proud to be a part of."

Marie on the invite to her home mentioned 'light refreshments'... There may have been some foods that were light as far as healthy, but the quantity and options were bountiful, in total 'giving generously Costa fashion'. There were trays of sandwiches and a variety of salads from Lavoti's Market, complimented by Frutta Bowls Colts Neck, make your own bowl platters, protein ball platters and gourmet toasts with toppings like fig and feta... Everyone had to go for second helpings! 

TAPinto spoke with Impact 100 member, Holmdel resident Marisa Khachaturian asking her what interested her most about joining Impact 100. She commented.  "I was looking to work with a group of professional women who were doing something big, really making a measurable difference, and Impact 100 is totally in line with that and I love being a part of it." 

Holmdel mom and Impact 100 member Dr. Denise Wunderler stopped by the Costa residence to join the meeting and share her Vienna Roses (donated by Marie Costa,) in memory of her daughter Vienna, who passed from Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood (SUDC) in 2017.  Wunderler is a passionate advocate for raising awareness for SUDC.

Wunderler commented, "I'm so thankful to Marie, owner of A Country Flower Shoppe and More, for donating absolutely beautiful roses which became Vienna Roses, in honor of my beautiful Vienna's (should have been) fourth birthday. I gave these out at the Holmdel Chamber of Commerce Meeting in Bell Works this morning and I'm sharing them here with the women of Impact 100. Thank you Marie."

Each Vienna Rose comes with a special card with a picture of then two year old Vienna smiling radiantly. The card asks the bearer of the rose to smile and keep the flower or pass it on in Vienna's memory.  

The afternoon included an overview of Impact 100 and everyone went around the room introducing themselves and their connection to the luncheon. A great time was shared in the spirit of giving. 

So, how do charities apply for funding from Impact 100:

Eligible Monmouth County area nonprofit organizations apply under one of the five focus areas: 1) arts and culture 2) Children and Families, 3) Education 4) Environment, Parks and Recreation 5) Health and Wellness. Impact 100 members review the applications, attend the site visits, analyze the applicant and nominate finalists. 

The three 2018 winners were chosen from the following five finalists, one in each eligible category:  American Littoral Society (Environment, Parks & Recreation), Support Live Music in Asbury Park (Arts & Culture), Caregiver Volunteers of Central Jersey (Health & Wellness) CFC Loud 'N' Clear Foundation (Children & Families), and Family Resource Associates (Education).  Every November there is an annual membership meeting, where the finalists present a 6-minute overview of their project followed by the Impact 100 members voting, and the grant recipients are announced. Nearly 50 charities applied for the grants in 2018. Through the generosity of OceanFirst Foundation the 2 grant finalists that did not make the top three each received a $1,500 grant. 

Impact 100 Jersey Coast was founded three years ago with 11 members and today they are 336 and growing. Any woman can join and become part of the team that provides "transformational grants" to eligible charities in Monmouth County. The Jersey Coast chapter is part of a national movement started by Wendy Steele in 2001 in Cincinnati, OH. The model now has over 50 chapters in the U.S. and around the world raising collectively more than $55 million. Founded in 2016, Impact 100 Jersey Coast with 145 members awarded $145,000 to 180 Turning Lives Around and in 2017, grew to 246 members awarding $246,000 split evenly to Covenant House of NJ and The Mental Health Association of Monmouth County. To visit the Impact 100 Jersey Coast website click here.  Membership fee for 2019 is $1,100 per woman. 

For more information about A Country Flower Shoppe and More click here.