A grass-roots event that began in 2002 with 50 women who responded to a call to build a Habitat for Humanity house for a single mother has blossomed into an annual event in its fifteenth year: Women’s Service Day. The spirit of giving—time, talent, and donations—in the West Michigan community is alive and growing.
The planning crew focuses the day of service to women and children on these goals:
- Making a difference in our community—and having a great time doing so
- Increase awareness of issues for women and children in the West Michigan community
- Promoting networking among women in our community
The event is an opportunity for volunteers to offer their time, skills, and talent to several nonprofit organizations in the Holland/Zeeland area. We’ve cleaned and organized, painted and finished, landscaped and weeded, cooked and baked, washed windows, assembled lesson plans and materials, organized and led after-school activities for middle school girls, and made cards for families with loved ones who are terminally ill or living in nursing facilities. Over the years we’ve had the event, we’ve had as many as 150 women participate for some part of the day!
How do nine women manage to pull off a community-wide day of service with so many volunteers each year and still remain friends? When all of them have a common goal—building community, building awareness, and networking—as well as common traits—compassion, respect, and commitment—it’s easy. Add to that some organizational and planning skills, and you can call it success. They rely tremendously on teamwork as well as the skills each planning team member brings to the group. Read about the strength of our members to see how each complements the others.
Nancy Corvers is supporting our fundraising raffle, recruiting donors and organizing the display. That makes good use of her experience merchandising her own sewn items at craft shows. Like a number of us on the planning crew, Nancy had a long career at Herman Miller. After retiring, she spent a few months in Hawaii as a volunteer, and continues in that spirit with the children’s ministry at her church–when she can be distracted, that is, from her love of sewing!
Cindy DeGraaf is a Dealer Business Consultant at Haworth, Inc. A master project manager, she is usually in charge of our Women’s Service Day lunch. From recipe analysis to portions to shopping lists, she manages every aspect of our menu, the shopping crew, and the kitchen staff during the event.
Lois Maassen is our mistress of networking, which continues to surprise her, since she thinks of herself as an introvert. Her background in communications and management was good training for always keeping our objectives in sight. When she’s not asking, “How hard can it be?” she’s doing business consulting and communications through Hedgehog Arts & Letters, LLC—or knitting, baking, or rereading Jane Austen.
The team considers itself lucky to have Christine MacLean on board to help with communications. Christine has published books for kids and young adults, and has written professionally for a number of area organizations, including Herman Miller. When she’s not putting words on [virtual] paper, Christine can often be found on a tennis court or in Lansing visiting either (or both!) of her MSU-student children.
Angie Martin is a Proposal Manager at Herman Miller. On our team, she utilizes those management skills to facilitate our communications plan and keep us on track during meetings. With her graphic design skills, Angie also has a hand in many of our marketing materials.
Lindsey Moungkhoun is supporting our donation drive and will be the new emcee of the luncheon. With her day job as Senior Document Management Coordinator and Corporate Social Responsibility Liaison at Mead Johnson Nutrition, husband and three young kids, and commitment to the Holland/Zeeland community, she still manages to read a book now and then and work in her garden. She’s looking forward to keeping Women’s Service day going for another 15 years!
Kallie Spidahl runs her own photography business and is one of the paparazzi photographers on Women’s Service Day. Aside from taking pictures, she loves kiteboarding, wakeboarding, and spending time outdoors.
As a former project manager at Herman Miller and now owner of Kenarry: Ideas for the Home, Carrie Ypma helps keep our team on track with our planning and communications. And she’s our primary social media manager. If it’s “liked,” posted, shared, or tweeted, there’s a good chance Carrie did it for our team. Carrie also joins Kallie as paparazzi on the day of the event to capture our volunteers’ experiences.
Planning an annual event isn’t all about work. Although we kick off each year’s planning session in April, six months ahead of Women’s Service Day, many of our meetings are held over dinners that often include wine. During our years together, we’ve celebrated retirements, weddings, births, birthdays, divorces, promotions, and adventures. A few weeks after the event we always hold a “lessons learned” meeting and then come the holidays, so we celebrate our friendship and good work with good cheer and some gift giving. Usually by February we start going into withdrawals from not seeing each other so sometimes we even start our next year’s planning a little early.
What it comes down to is trust. We rely on each others’ strengths and the relationships we’ve built as a team to get things done.
There are other women who have served countless hours throughout the history of Women’s Service Day. We honor them with “emeritus” status and enjoy their ongoing friendship and participation during the event.
- Waltraud Beckmann
- Marcia Davis
- Sue Gadbois
- Cheryl Murdoch