Earlier this year, Elwood resident Heather Mammolito had a conversation with a friend about a new group concept – 100 women banding together to help support their communities in an act of collaborative giving. “Thinking that it was an amazing idea, I immediately got to work and reached out to some of my closest friends, friends that I knew I could count on to start building our network,” she said.
Within a month, Mammolito and friends – the same women she sought out because she considers them “doers” – scheduled the first 100 Women of Huntington meeting. The group grew organically, eventually exceeding its goal of 100 members, with like-minded women joining because they too wanted to make a difference. Many of the group members are business owners or community leaders, Mammolito said. Some of them are already involved in local nonprofit organizations.
“You kindly joined forces for the betterment of the Huntington community. Your voice and determination are the reason why we’re all here tonight,” Mammolito said to a group of 118 women who met at LaMantia Gallery in Northport Village on the evening of March 1, the first day of Women’s History Month.
It took Mammolito and her fellow leaders exactly 24 days to brainstorm the concept, build a website, and spread the word about the group. Members meet quarterly, with each individual woman pledging to donate $100 per meeting to an organization chosen by the group. The process not only raises money for these community nonprofits, but increases awareness of the many charitable organizations that exist within the Town of Huntington while creating a practical network of relationships for the group’s participants.
The concept for 100 Women of Huntington was born from similar circles in Canada and the Adirondacks; Mammolito mimicked many of their guidelines as she began to form the group. “From there we just ran with it and threw it out there, and people seemed to be receptive,” she told the Journal.
100 Women, Mammolito said, is bringing people together for the greater good and serves as a streamlined way to give back to the community. Prior to a meeting, group members are able to nominate a local nonprofit organization; nominated organizations must be 501(c)(3) and based in the Town of Huntington. It is also required that most of the money raised by the organization is going toward its cause, with minimal administrative costs.
On the night of each quarterly meeting, the names of all vetted and approved nominations go into a bowl and three are randomly chosen. Members who nominated each chosen organization then speak on its behalf, educating the membership about the people and causes each nonprofit serves. A brief Q&A follows, with audience members able to ask questions about the organizations. Finally, all 100-plus members use a Google form to vote on the group they would like to receive the donation, and within minutes, a winner is decided.
On March 1, 100 Women of Huntington gave its first donation – a check for $11,800 – to the Daniela Conte Foundation. Other charities up for consideration that evening included the Tri Community and Youth Agency (Tri CYA) and Harborfields Alliance for Community Outreach (HACO).
Founded in 2020 by Katia and Anthony Conte, the Daniela Conte Foundation honors the life of the couple’s oldest daughter, who passed away from rhabdomyosarcoma (cancer of body tissue and bones) at eight years old. The foundation offers financial support to families affected by childhood cancer, and helps fund childhood cancer research, with a particular interest in embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma (ERMS).
In the past three years, the Contes have raised over $250,000 through events like 5Ks and galas, and via corporate partnerships, merchandise sales, and more. Daniela’s mom, Katia Conte, spoke in front of the 100 Women of Huntington membership on Wednesday night, detailing the work the foundation has done since her daughter passed away after her three-year fight against cancer. She said she’s proud too of the group’s very low administrative costs, with 95 cents of every dollar going toward families in need.
When the foundation was announced as the recipient of the $11,800 donation, Conte could barely contain her emotions. The following day would mark three years since Daniela passed away.
In an email and Facebook post to group members the night after the first meeting, Mammolito wrote, “I am truly blown away by the power of like-minded women who have the ability to put their minds and energy together to make great things happen.”
If you’re interested in learning more about 100 Women of Huntington, visit their website here. To learn more about the Daniela Conte Foundation, click here.
Editor’s note: Chrissy Ruggeri and Joanne Kountourakis, owners of the Northport Journal, are members of 100 Women of Huntington. We are proud to be part of the group and its mission to support local organizations doing meaningful work in our community.