Save the Date! Women’s Service Day is October 3

Think about the number 18. If you’re a parent, it’s the age your children become adults. If you’re a Women’s Service Day planning team member or volunteer, it’s 18 years of serving women and children in West Michigan.

Where did the time go?

Join us as we celebrate our eighteenth year and mark your calendars for October 3. That’s the day we’ll be helping agencies in the Holland/Zeeland area. We’ll also hold an auction and raffle for Hope Packages, which provides “first night bags” of essential items like pajamas and a toothbrush for kids entering foster care. A number of you have assembled those bags during Women’s Service Day.

And, as in past years, we’ll lead a donation drive. This year we’ll support Community Action House, which provides area families and individuals with food, clothing, shelter, and skill-building opportunities to achieve stable and prosperous lives. We’ll gather donations of toilet paper, deodorant, shampoo, body soap, toothpaste, and feminine hygiene products. While you’re out and about this summer, it’s the perfect time to look for bargains on items for the donation drive and shop ahead!

Registration will open right after Labor Day. You can share information about the event via Facebook and Twitter. You can also send their email addresses to the Women’s Service Day Planning Committee; we’ll add them to our mailing list. If you’d like other information to help spread the word, such as newsletter announcements and posters, let us know. And if it turns out that the group you have in mind can’t volunteer on the day of the event, think about organizing a group donation of the things listed above. Every little bit helps!

We hope to see you—and your friends—at Women’s Service Day on Thursday, October 3!

Serving beyond Women’s Service Day

One of the goals of Women’s Service Day is to give volunteers an opportunity to learn about and see firsthand the way agencies are meeting needs in our community. Our hope is that some volunteers will form a meaningful connection with an agency and work with it after WSD, in some way.

We have a great example from last year. At WSD 2107, Janice Driesenga from JCI ended up helping out at ACTS, which offers an after school program for children. While she was there, she chatted with a member of the staff about the work and their needs.

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Janice Driesenga, of JCI, and Jaime Blom, one of the founders of ACTS

When the holidays rolled around, Janice remembered that conversation. As part of JCI’s “Care and Share” outreach, she and her colleagues donated some of the things the staff member mentioned, including 27 pairs of slippers for kids to wear while at ACTS, hats, gloves, games, puzzles, boxes of Kleenex, art supplies, basketballs, a basketball hoop, new tires for the ACTS van, and gas cards.

“It was fun because we knew what they needed,” says Janice. “The thrilling part is actually seeing the generosity of others. That’s what chokes me up. I sent out an email one morning saying that we need a certain amount for a basketball hoop and by noon we had $350.” They ended up buying four basketball hoops.

And it didn’t stop there. “After the maintenance guys put up the basketball hoops, they ended up going back and doing some stuff around the house. And we recently did another donation of gently used clothing and toys.”

While we only organize crews for one day a year, all of the agencies welcome help year around. We hope you’ll consider helping out at other times, as well!

 

Year 17 was prime!

It was a topnotch year, even by our high standards! It wasn’t just the 175 volunteers who cheerfully spent time organizing, raking, cleaning, cooking, grooming, sewing, and many other acts of service, or the hospitality of the agencies who welcomed those volunteers. It wasn’t just the $5,000 that we raised (with help from Herman Miller Cares) for new programming at Camp Sunshine, or the three large boxes of bras, panties, and p.j.s that you all donated for Holland Rescue Mission’s clients, or the way so many people contributed raffle items when we put out the call. All those things certainly made it a success! But for us this year, it was also the evidence we saw of the event’s ripple effect.

Here’s one example: A Community Action House representative called a donor not long ago, and discovered that the person had first become familiar with Community Action House through Women’s Service Day. She’d had a good experience and wanted to give it additional support. Now that person is a donor and a volunteer throughout the year.

We believe this happens a lot, but hearing about it was really exciting for us!

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Thank you for participating! Thank you for flexing when the circumstances required it–and for flexing muscles you may not be used to using. Thank you for your willing hearts and your enthusiasm. Remember: It’s October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness month, so please consider giving just a little more, this time to the Breast Care Fund.

You’ve probably seen the video from that day, but if you want to see more photos, check out the album on our Facebook page over the next week or so.

We’re already looking forward to next year, and we hope you are, too!

Join Us to Support Early Diagnosis for Every Woman in Our Community

If you were at Women’s Service Day on October 4, you heard from Alecia Jones, nurse navigator at Holland Hospital, about the Breast Care Fund. It exists because being uninsured or under-insured is an obstacle for women to getting the early diagnosis of breast cancer that is key to successful recovery (a stage-one diagnosis gives a nearly 100% chance). When women are concerned about the cost of diagnosis–whether the first mammogram or follow-up tests–they’re more likely to postpone.

This affects thousands of women in our own community, which is why Holland Hospital set up the Breast Care Fund. Watch an introduction to the fund here.

What’s the connection to Women’s Service Day? Well, first, we’re women. Second, our event and projects depend on a network of people throughout the community. When we chose to do a bra drive for Holland Rescue Mission, we thought of artwork from Carolyn Stich, who’s been a past supporter of our event. When we talked to her (and she agreed to our use of the artwork), she asked whether we were aware of the fund, and whether we’d consider it as a beneficiary of our efforts. Our plans for the event had already been made and communicated, but because it’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month and we’re women, we made a commitment to communicate about the fund throughout October.

What can you do? Donate to the Breast Care Fund here. Spread the word about the need right here in our own community. Organize additional fundraising on whatever scale you choose.

And Alecia would want us to add: Schedule your mammogram–and follow through!

 

Thanks!

A huge thank you to everyone who contributed to this year’s success (especially whoever order the perfect weather)! The final numbers aren’t in yet, but about 175 volunteers served at 17 agencies across Holland and, with support from Herman Miller Cares, raised more than $5,000 for Camp Sunshine! We also collected bras, underwear, and children’s pjs for Holland Rescue Mission. Your generosity in terms of time and money is overwhelming and inspiring, every single year!

How did the day go for you? If there’s anything you’d like us to think about for next year’s event, please tell us!

We’ll do a wrap-up post next week, but for now, here’s a sweet video from WSD paparazzi member, Kallie Spidahl.

 

What to Expect on October 4

October 4 is next week already! We are so excited to see all of you for another day of making our corner of the world just a little better. Here’s what to expect.

For a morning or all-day session, plan to arrive at your worksite in Holland at 8:30 a.m. For an afternoon session, plan to arrive at Hope Church by noon, where we’ll gather for a celebration lunch (for which we ask a $5 donation).

We’ll be holding a raffle to help support new programming from  Camp Sunshine, which provides camp experiences for adults with developmental disabilities. And we’ll be collecting donations of new (with tags on) bras, women’s underwear, and children’s pajamas for Holland Rescue Mission, a non-profit shelter that seeks to meet the needs of men, women, and children in West Michigan. Bring your donations and your checkbook!

Hope Church has a parking lot, but if it is full, you may also park across the street to the north at First United Methodist (57 W. 10th Street, between Pine and River).

See you next week!

Questions?

E-mail the Women’s Service Day Planning Committee or visit our 2018 Event page.

Pressed for Time? Slightly Shy? Join Us for Lunch!

With the change in the weather–suddenly it’s autumn!–perhaps you’ve realized that Women’s Service Day is right around the corner on October 4. We know not everyone can devote a half-day to join us, and some would like to dip a toe in before committing to the whole event; here are some possibilities if you’re still considering your options.

If You’ve Already Registered: Terrific! You’ve likely already gotten a confirmation from Sign Up Genius of your specific crew/s, and you’ve helped us to reach over 90 percent! You can still invite your friends, colleagues, or sisters (literal or metaphorical) to join us; send them a link to this blog post or to Sign Up Genius. We’ll add spaces as they’re available, so it’s possible you can invite a friend or colleague to join the crew you’re planning on.

Sign Up NowIf You Haven’t Yet Registered: You still can! We still have openings for October 4. Again, just go to Sign Up Genius and see what opportunities appeal to you. (Click here if you’d like detailed instructions on Sign Up Genius). Please keep in mind that most agencies require that volunteers be 18 or older.

If You’re Unable to Join a Crew but you’re still interested in supporting Women’s Service Day, join us for lunch! RSVP for lunch only here. Plan to arrive at 11:45 or noon, and bring a donation to the bra, underwear, and pajama drive, $5 to cover your lunch, and means and willingness to buy some raffle tickets. Proceeds from the raffle will support off-season social and recreational opportunities for adults with developmental disabilities, through Camp Sunshine.

Out of Town on October 4? You can still contribute bras, underwear, or pajamas to the donation drive. Contact us at womensserviceday@gmail.com to arrange a drop-off of your contribution.

Questions? Use the contact form on this website, visit our Facebook page, or email the planning team at womensserviceday@gmail.com for more information.