On a pleasant Thursday in June, over 100 women and little girls got together at the Edge Country Club for a nice buffet and plenty of fellowship. But these ladies had other things in mind besides eating and visiting.
Every year for 13 years, the Open Hearts Open Purses (OHOP) group gets together to donate $10,000 to a worthy non-profit organization in south Madison County.
OHOP began in 2010 with 100 women who each donated $100. The goal was to give the money to a different non-profit each year. The members of OHOP vote to decide between three finalists to determine the recipient. There is also a group of junior OHOPs who each donate $25 and make their own decision.
“I have been a member for 6 years,” 7-year-old Ames Berline said. “My Papa Bear pays my dues every year.”
Ames is part of four generations who are members of OHOP. Her grandmother, Lynn Mellinger; great mother, Ruth Berline; mom, Katie; aunt Sarah and her sisters are all members.
Donna Hutton, her daughter Heather Tannas and granddaughter Hannah are also another family of three-generation members.
The group listened Thursday as three organizations gave the reasons they felt they should receive the grant.
Becca Mattson spoke for Turn Away No Longer. Mattson, 20, asked the group to “Imagine what it would be like to be in school as a teenager only thinking about the game Friday night. Suddenly you are called to the office and your whole life changes when you find out you are going in to foster care.”
Mattson was placed in nine foster homes before she aged out of the system. Turn Away No Longer provides a home for foster children until they find placement.
“We focus on the needs of these children,” said TANL founder Tracy Walters. “There are currently 600 kids in foster care.” Katie’s Closet provides clothes and other necessities to foster children.
“Ten thousand dollars would make a lasting impact. You would make a difference,” Mattson said.
Ashley Waterbury Carpenter then talked about building a disc golf course in Pendleton.
“We started in 2017 in Anderson with an 18-hole disc golf course,” Carpenter said.
If selected, they will help rebuild the 9-hole course in Pendleton and add another eight holes.
“This is an affordable and fun sport that is accessible to children and senior citizens,” Carpenter added.
The third candidate was Nancy Anderson, representing Peyton Manning’s children’s clinic in Anderson. Anderson, who is a 7-year member of OHOP, has been with the clinic for 10 years.
“I have found my calling,” she said.
The clinic had its roots in 1973 at St. John’s hospital. Several of the doctors in the ER noticed there were children who could not afford medical care. The doctors began volunteering one night a week to help these children and their parents. The clinic eventually grew into its own building.
“We close the payment gap between what the parents can pay and what is still owed,” Anderson said. “That shortfall averages $107.50 per child.”
The clinic provides care for approximately 2,200 children each year. The grant would help 93 of those children.
“Families don’t have to choose between food and medical care,” she added.
When the three ladies finished their presentations, the voting began.
A silent auction raised $1700, $1000 of which was presented to Olivia Wood of the Lapel Park Board.
“It will be used for Brookside Park where we will add a native trail,” Wood said.
When the voting concluded, the winner of the grant was announced. Junior OHOP voted to give Turn Away No Longer $450. Because there were 154 women this year, the organization was able to give more money. OHOP voted to give their grant to Turn Away No Longer, also. They received $10,000 and the other two groups got $2,700 each.
“Let’s give special recognition to Sue Patton and Tammy Bowman,” chairman Jill Sizemore requested as the meeting ended. “I couldn’t have this event without them.”
She added OHOP’s starting point is each of us playing a small part in the community.
“I would like to challenge each person here to invite one person to join for next year,” Sizemore said.
Penny Cregar, who has been a member since the beginning, brought two new members this year in Darlene Reeder and LaToya Davis.