When 100 women come together to leverage their collective donations, they showcase the power of giving. That’s the plan for the 10th annual 100 Arab American Women Who Care fundraiser at the Center for Arab American Philanthropy (CAAP). The special 10th-anniversary event will feature Michigan Congresswomen Rep. Rashida Tlaib as a guest speaker and will celebrate mothers in the community for Mother’s Day. 

Following the organization’s donation this year, it will have raised $100,000 — $10,000 a year — for various charities chosen by a majority vote in the group. The program originated at the Center for Arab American Philanthropy and was inspired by a similar fundraiser held by the St. Clair County Community Foundation each year. 

RELATED: Arab American National Museum offers free admission, artist-in-residence performance for Arab American Heritage Month

Ahead of the May 13 event, CAAP Director Tamara El-Khoury and Rasha Demashkieh, the advisory board chair for the center, joined One Detroit contributor Daijah Moss to talk about the impact of the 100 Arab American Women Who Care fundraiser. Plus, they talk about how the fundraiser helps reshape the perception of Arab Americans in their communities, juxtaposing what’s often seen on mainstream media, and how the event helps build a more inclusive community. 

Full Transcript:

Rasha Demashkieh, Advisory Board Chair, Center for Arab American Philanthropy: The 100 Arab American Women Who Care is a program that originated with CAAP, the Center for Arab American Philanthropy, and is one of the national institutions of ACCESS. ACCESS being the largest Arab American not-for-profit in the country. I started this project that we named the 100 Arab American Women Who Care. 

And I truly it wasn’t something I came up with. I copied it from the St Clair County Community Foundation that holds every year the 100 Women Who Care event. We kind of tailor that to our own needs, and this is our 10th year, so that is why it is really special. We’ve been doing this for ten whole years. We are inclusive. We welcome anyone and everyone that would like to be a part of it, and it’s usually a lot of fun. It’s an event that is sort of a demonstration about how you can leverage the donating power of women to benefit one lucky organization. 

Tamara El-Khoury, Director, Center For Arab American Philanthropy: This event is really amazing because it brings Arab-American women from all over Michigan. But it’s also important to remember Arab-Americans include diversity within representing so many different countries, different religions, different parts of the state. And so, it brings us all together for one greater good, which is to serve our community through one charity. Philanthropy is rooted in the Greek word for the sake of humanity. 

And I think philanthropy to me and everyone has their own individual belief, but to me, philanthropy is doing what you can with the resources you have to make your community better. And my role is to serve donors, to serve Arab-American donors, to help make giving as easy as possible for them and to help them become strategic and thoughtful about their giving. Arab Americans historically are an incredibly generous community, but we haven’t always been very strategic or formal in our giving. 

Rasha Demashkieh: I just wanted to do an event where we can demonstrate the generosity of Arab Americans when they come to the event. It’s usually a lot of fun. We serve lunch. It’s cheerful, you know, kind of a beautiful event. And at the end, everyone that’s there, all the members will vote for one organization that ends up going with the whole pot of money. So over the ten years, we have gifted, you know, 10,000, over $100,000. But every year, $10,000 go to different organization. 

Tamara El-Khoury: I believe that this event is really important because not only does it highlight the generosity of Arab Americans and showcases their contributions to our community, it helps change perceptions about Arab Americans. When you see Arab Americans in the media, it’s often portrayed in a negative light. And this is one of the ways where we can showcase that Arab Americans are generous. 

They care about improving their communities. I want everyone to feel like philanthropy is accessible to them. There’s so often the misconception that you must be a millionaire or a high-powered CEO in order to be a philanthropist. But philanthropy comes in many forms, and it is a way to improve your community. What this event, how it inspires me is that it is a way to show the power of collective giving. Each person comes in with a donation in this case of $125, but collectively they are able to make a $10,000 impact on one worthy charity. 

Rasha Demashkieh: In preparation for this event being the 10th anniversary, we put a lot of thought. We kind of brainstormed about what can we do to make this one special, make it stand out, and we are having a particular guest coming. Representative Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib is going to be there and we’re very excited about having her come and talk to us. And the event is taking place the day before Mother’s Day. So we’re going to be very focused on the mothers in our community. 

Tamara El-Khoury: I am hoping that when people leave this event, they feel energized, they feel good about themselves and their contributions and that they want to do even more and continue to participate in their communities in other ways, and to learn more about being philanthropic. Last year, the previous year’s grantee came and they did a video to showcase how our grant had affected them. And at the end, the director of development who is non-Arab, said, ‘shukran’, which in Arabic means ‘thank you’. That was a really beautiful example of the impact of this event and how it’s raising awareness about Arab-American generosity and also helping to build a more inclusive community.  

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