Kate Williamson first heard about the Impact100 model through people involved in the Impact100 Jersey Coast chapter and the idea struck her as pure genius. In 2016, an organization Kate’s wife Susan helped found nearly 40 years earlier had applied for a grant from Impact100 Jersey Coast.  Susan was one of the original founders of what is now known as 180 Turning Lives Around in Monmouth County, which runs a purpose-built shelter for women, men, and their children who are victims of domestic violence. The grant was to help start their Family Justice Center, which provides comprehensive, one-stop services to intersect with local and county agencies, police, family court, etc. Susan had not been actively involved with 180 for a while, but they reached out to her to ask her to be part of their finalist presentation. Susan told Kate about that annual meeting and how amazing this whole Impact100 idea is. Kate had never heard of it. One hundred women provide $1000 each to aggregate into one six figure grant to fund something awesome. “I loved that it was a group of women doing this. Women know how to get things done, especially busy women.”

Kate kept that idea in the back of her mind and eventually started digging to learn more about it. At first, she accidentally joined Impact100 New Jersey before realizing that there was a South Jersey chapter. Once she figured out that a small state has more than a few Impact100 chapters and got the right one, it’s been smooth sailing. “I also joined Impact 100 Jersey Coast. We have a summer home in Monmouth County, so it felt right to be in the two chapters that cover our two communities. I’m much more hands on with Impact100 South Jersey because we live full time in Burlington County.”

It was June of 2018 when Kate signed up to become an Impact100 SJ member for the 2019 grant year.  Anxious to become involved as soon as possible, Kate was very happy to attend the first annual meeting at Tavistock Country Club, when Impact100 SJ had 74 members, and see the very first grant of $74,000 awarded to Hopeworks in Camden. “That’s what convinced me that I wanted to do grant review the very first chance I had. Listening to the finalists present and the sheer commitment of those organizations to their communities brought tears to my eyes. It still does.”

Since joining, Kate has spent a lot of time in grant review and that just feeds her soul! “When you look at the proposals from all these non-profits, most of which I’ve never heard of, and what they want to do in the world, it just melts my heart. There is so much good being done in the world by people who are fueled by a passion for making something better and a love for their communities.” Kate knows we will never run out of need, and it’s easy sometimes to look at what’s broken or lacking and to feel despair, and she understands that. Grant review always reminds Kate of one of her favorite quotes. It’s from a book called “Among Schoolchildren” by Tracy Kidder. [“Many people find it easy to imagine unseen webs of malevolent conspiracy in the world, and they are not always wrong. But there is also an innocence that conspires to hold humanity together, and it is made of people who can never fully know the good that they have done.”] “Grant review shows me that innocence that conspires to hold humanity together.  And I think Impact100 is part of that too.”

Kate thinks about the fingerprints you can leave in the world by the things you choose to do with your time and energy and money. Her mantra is very simple: leave everything better than you found it. And Kate thinks being so involved in Impact100 is one of the ways to do that. “I’m not someone who needs my name said out loud or written on a sign. I really don’t do things for the recognition. I’m uncomfortable with it because that’s not what drives me.” Kate describes her best days as when she feels like she’s been useful or helpful to someone else. She has always regretted the times she was too tired or selfish or oblivious to be kinder. “I will never regret what I’ve ever done for someone else or in service to something bigger than me.”

Kate and Susan have been together for 25 years and became legally married in 2013 when New Jersey state law allowed it. “I am an insufferably proud aunt and step-grandmother. I lift weights, love to cook, play golf badly but joyfully, and make it a point every day to sit still in gratitude. I have much to be thankful for. St. Paul tells us to give thanks in all circumstances, and that’s no small thing.”