A WSD Satellite in SE Michigan!

Building networks among women has been a goal of Women’s Service Day (WSD) since the very first event in West Michigan 20 years ago. That network is now paying off in an unexpected way! 

In late summer, the WSD planning team was contacted by several women who work for Yanfeng in West Michigan and in Novi; they’re a part of the Women’s Resource Network at that company. Several of them had participated in the West Michigan WSD event; others had heard about it from coworkers. 

They didn’t want to miss out, and they saw an opportunity for women to come together on the east side of the state to do the same kind of good our volunteers have accomplished here! They’ve worked with local-to-them agencies to identify volunteer opportunities, and are ready to launch this first satellite WSD event this Thursday, October 14. Agencies supported are:

  • Earthworks, where volunteers will do seasonal garden maintenance
  • Crossroads in Michigan, where they’ll package condiments for the soup kitchen
  • First Step Domestic & Sexual Violence, where they’ll beautify the area outside of the shelter
  • Food Gatherers, where they’ll sort donations and pack food boxes
  • Michigan Council of Women in Technology, where they’ll pack bags for high school students

Like the “mother” event, the SE Michigan event is using SignUpGenius so volunteers can select the opportunity that’s most appealing, and one or two half-day crews. This event has been publicized within Yanfeng by the Women’s Resource Network; they welcome friends, family, and colleagues from other organizations. 

Available opportunities are limited and will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. Please note that the Women’s Service Day Planning Team has put these protocols in place for in-person participation:

  • Mask wearing is required indoors regardless of vaccination status
  • Mask wearing is required outdoors when social distancing is not possible
  • Follow CDC and State of Michigan DHHS guidelines for recommended protocols 

How can you help launch this SE Michigan event? Spread the word! The initiative to create this event demonstrates that our networks extend across Michigan and beyond.

From “Sangry” to SO GOOD: What One Woman Can Do

The coronavirus pandemic certainly paralyzed many of us in ways we had never expected—stay-at-home orders and restrictions on businesses, fellowship, sports, performing arts, and other activities. Changes in how we work, learn, socialize, and grieve. When the Greek philosopher Heraclitus said, “The only constant in life is change,” most of us probably never expected a year-long rollercoaster ride that affected every aspect of life for people around the globe.

Many people felt helpless during this time, not being able to visit loved ones, tend to the sick and dying, or participate in our regular community building activities.

The Women’s Service Day team adapted by forgoing our annual in-person event and, instead, promoting Women’s Service Season—invitations offered each month from August through October—to help women and children in our community during a pandemic: by safe in-person or at-home volunteering, giving financial or in-kind support, or joining or amplifying nonprofits’ events. 

Several of our regular volunteers took Women’s Service Season to heart, driven by their passion to serve others. Lisa volunteered at the Community Action House Food Pantry. Alyssa shopped for foster kids to fill “first night” bags in support of Hope Pkgs. Virginia cleaned up the grounds at Benjamin’s Hope, a community residence for adults with developmental disabilities. Joanie orchestrated a garage sale in her neighborhood to benefit Community Action House.

These examples show how we can really be creative even during challenges like a global pandemic. But sometimes the drive to serve is so strong, you just have to engage your friends. And coworkers. And so on.

“Despite being so grateful for my considerable blessings—a roof over our heads, lots of good food, kids who are healthy, oh, and toilet paper—the joy that often flows from gratitude escaped me,” said Joanie, who lives in West Michigan. “I felt an intense collision of sadness and anger over COVID-19, compounded by issues of social injustice and seemingly cavernous political divides. And I have been, at times, disheartened and paralyzed because it all seemed so big and out of my reach.”

She got so antsy to just do something that would have a positive impact—something within her reach that would make a difference beyond what she could do alone. “I did not want to stay in that place that teetered on despair and immobilization,” said Joanie.

“If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” – African proverb

Joanie reached out to the Community Foundation of Holland/Zeeland (CFHZ) to learn more about the Community Stabilization Fund, designed in 2020 to address the most urgent needs in our community resulting from this sudden and essentially unparalleled pandemic: financial stability, health, and education.

She contacted some of her former coworkers and invited them to make a commitment in matching gifts, up to $4,100. Then she learned Herman Miller Cares (Herman Miller’s Foundation and Global Giving Program) offered to contribute another $5,000 toward the match. It spread like wildfire: Herman Miller Cares and CFHZ communicated the initiative internally and through social media.

Here is the outcome—from one woman’s idea that persuaded 50 community members to participate: $29,000 raised.

This funding has the potential to support:

  • 58 individuals/families with direct cash assistance of $500 to help pay for rent, utilities, food, and hygiene supplies
  • 250 more individuals with alcohol and drug addiction treatment supported by Ottagan Addictions Recovery (OAR)
  • Retooling of programming to help our most vulnerable students avoid slipping behind in school through Ready for School, Outdoor Discovery Center

Read about the impact of this fund in CFHZ President Mike Goorhouse’s review of 2020. The organization reported over $1 million raised specifically for this fund.

Joanie went from “sangry” (sad + angry) to feeling SO GOOD. Joining and rallying others is an impactful way to make a difference during a difficult time like the coronavirus pandemic—and a way to build community when we can’t be together in person.

“In every community, there is work to be done. In every nation, there are wounds to heal. In every heart, there is the power to do it.” – Marianne Williamson, author and activist

Thank You, Volunteers!

Even after 18 years, we are amazed at the generosity and hard work demonstrated by Women’s Service Day volunteers!

In one day,180 volunteers registered to serve 16 agencies. Many of them joined us for lunch where we held a fundraiser for Hope Pkgs and raised over $3,000. And, volunteers donated a number of items to Community Action House:

  • 44 toothpaste tubes
  • 17 toothbrushes
  • 130 rolls of toilet paper
  • 6 rolls of paper towels
  • 71 shampoo bottles
  • 43 deodorant containers
  • 60 body wash/lotion bottles
  • 2 shaving creams/1 razor
  • 75 bars of soap
  • 116 panty liners
  • 180 tampons
  • 303 maxi pads

Stay tuned for the full story–with photos–to see all we accomplished in just one day!

For now, we just want to say thank you for opening your hearts, pulling on your work clothes (and mud boots), and sharing your love!

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!

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!

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.

Calling all bras, underwear and children’s pajamas! (as long as they are new!)

The mission of Women’s Service Day has always been to serve women and children in Holland. Toward this end, we’re collecting the following for Holland Rescue Mission.

  • Bras (any size and style, including sports bras)
  • Women’s underwear (teenagers and women)
  • Children’s pajamas

The Holland Rescue Mission is a non-profit shelter that seeks to meet the needs of men, women, and children in West Michigan. It serves about 350 women every year, and each woman who comes to Holland Rescue Mission is provided a bra and underwear in her size. It serves about 200 children, and each child gets a pair of pajamas.

Please consider helping out by taking advantage of any sales you see in the next two weeks and buying those items. Also, let us know about those sales and we’ll spread the word!

Then bring what you buy (and/or collect from colleagues if you’re coordinating a donation drive) to the WSD luncheon at Hope Church on October 4; if you can’t make it to the luncheon, you can still deliver donations there that day. Thank you in advance! Our volunteers are the best!

 

Invite your friends and colleagues to participate!

Are you in a book club, running group, or part of any other small group or large team with women who want to make a difference in their community? Consider asking them if they want to participate in Women’s Service Day!

Ask them at your next meeting, send them an email, or share information about the event via Facebook and Twitter. You can also send their email addresses to the Women’s Service Day Planning Committee and 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!

In addition to volunteering at a number of nonprofit agencies in Holland (here’s a list of places we’ve volunteered in the past), we’ll be holding a raffle to help support new programming from  Camp Sunshine, which provides summer 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. So even if the group you have in mind can’t volunteer on the day of the event, think about organizing a group donation of new bras and undies! (No used items, please.)

Women’s Service Day originated from the spirit of giving among a group of women who recruited their friends and colleagues to help build a home for a single mom. We’d love to engage more women from our community to offer their time and talents, working side-by-side with women who want to make a difference.

Look for sign-up information shortly after Labor Day. We hope to see you–and your friends–at Women’s Service Day on Thursday, October 4!