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Good Friends Charlotte Celebrates 35 Years of Supporting Women and Families

Good Friends Charlotte Celebrates 35 Years of Supporting Women and Families
 

It all began with a simple idea four girlfriends discussed over lunch many years ago.  Their goal?
To bring together a diverse group of women, asking their “Good Friends” to gather and give and
to use those funds to help area families in need.  That was the beginning of Good Friends
Charlotte.  Now, the non-profit organization is poised to celebrate its’ 35th anniversary.
“Our four founding women realized that a number of small needs in the community were going
unmet by local non-profits,” explains Marinn Bengel, Board Member and this year’s Gather and
Give Chair.  “They were determined to solve these challenges that can help a family go from
fragility back to stability.”
The organization has raised more than $6 million since its first luncheon in 1987 and has 885
annual members and more than 200 lifetime members.  As the organization continues to grow
in membership, so does its impact on the community.  Financial support focuses on food
insecurity issues, infant safety, shelter for those in need and sponsoring safe summer activities
for youth.  “When a child needed a wig while fighting cancer, we bought it.  When a woman
needs new teeth because her abuser has damaged her smile, we jumped in to help,” explains
Bengel.  “We are Good Friends to a community that has shifting demands.”
Good Friends receives approximately 100 calls a day for assistance.  Due to their nimble design,
they are one of only a few local charities that were able to remain open during the COVID-19
pandemic, helping to step in to assist those in need.  When thousands moved to hotels during
COVID they brought in hot meals.  When children did not have internet access, they stepped in
to provide internet hot spots.  Good Friends’ President Anne McPhail says, “We are helping
those who live on the financial edge, where one small change can mean they go without.”
The organization has had a long-standing commitment to providing veterans with meals as well
as sponsoring meals for the Charlotte Rescue Mission.  This year Good Friends will supply 350
Thanksgiving meals in connection with its anniversary.  The group also partners with
Mecklenburg County Public Health to provide car seats, formula and diapers to families in need. 
“Just like in your life, Good Friends changes you,” Bengel says.  “Our goal is to meet clients
where they are and to find ways to help because we know even little things in life can be a
stumbling block.”  And as other members will tell you, “We all need Good Friends!” 
Good Friends Charlotte is an all-female organization including women of all ages, stages of life
and careers.  There are several options for membership, beginning at $75 a year for an annual
member and new members are welcome!  The organization’s 35th annual Gather and Give event
will be held on Thursday, December 9th at 11:30 a.m. at the Charlotte Convention Center.  The
organization will also provide options to stream online.  To find out more about the
organization, how to become a member, a sponsor or to simply make a donation, visit
goodfriendscharlotte.org.

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