Women's Foundation stands behind groups that aid the needy

January 12, 1994|By TaNoah V. Sterling | TaNoah V. Sterling,Staff Writer

When a runaway in Howard County finds safe emergency shelter and a terminally ill cancer patient gets extra medical attention, they can thank a small, dedicated group of women in Dorsey's Search.

Since 1985, the Dorsey's Search Women's Foundation has helped the distressed and raised money for charitable causes countywide.

Begun as a social club in 1981, the group gives more than $6,000 each year to needy families and to organizations that help children and families.

"We're not trying to conquer the world. We're just trying to do what we can," said Sharon Bedke, president of the group, which has about 20 very active members.

Among the foundation's accomplishments in 1993:

* A gift of $1,000 to help Christian Services of Howard County start a facility for unwed mothers.

* Grocery store gift certificates worth $50 each, given during the holidays to 20 needy families with children in Northfield and Thunderhill elementary schools.

* A Christmas party and $20 gift certificates to a local store, given to 56 foster children throughout Howard County.

* Donations of $300 each to the Hospice Services of Howard County and Grassroots Crisis Intervention Center, both of which have been helped by the foundation in the past.

The foundation also steps in when county residents suffer tragedies such as house fires or sudden illnesses. It provides baby-sitting services, meals, transportation and other help.

"I think it's remarkable for a group of women in a community to come together for the purposes of supporting the community," said Andrea Ingram, executive director of Grassroots Crisis Intervention Center, a private, nonprofit homeless shelter in Columbia. "They help support our whole agency."

Nancy Weber, executive director of the Hospice Services of Howard County, agrees.

"We're deeply appreciative that there's an organization like this that is deeply committed to the community and makes sure the community has quality services," Ms. Weber said.

The foundation's president said the members were looking for way to help meet some of the county's needs.

"We said, 'What can we as housewives and working mothers do to make a difference in the community?' " said Ms. Bedke. "If we could have a couple of fund-raisers, have fun and make money for the community, that's a good thing to do."

The foundation began raising money in 1985 and relies on two semi-annual children's consignment sales, held in October and April, and a holiday auction, held in November.

Member Beth Torgrimson said the typical consignment sale raises thousands of dollars in less than four hours.

"We reach so many people. We help the people who are selling and those who are buying. And we donate all the money we raise," she said.

"I've had people come from Virginia and Pennsylvania for this. People are there when the doors open. Frequently, they start calling a month ahead of time to see when it's going to be."

To the women of the foundation, the most important part is helping the charities and the people who are in need.

"This is a group of women who have very sensitive feelings. Everybody is very conscious of the needs of the community," said Judi Smith, a longtime member.

The Dorsey's Search Women's Foundation also is open to men and people outside the village community.

For more information, call Sharon Bedke at 964-4300.

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