17 Reasons to Save the Date: October 4

Landscaping as part of the 2016 event.

This year will be the seventeenth year of Women’s Service Day, which will be held Thursday, October 4, 2018. In honor of those years, we’ve put together a list of 17 reasons why you should save the date:

  1. To help women and children in our community
  2. To see old friends
  3. To make new friends
  4. For the blueberry crisp served at lunch
  5. To learn a new skill
  6. To get a good night of sleep after a day of manual labor
  7. Because you have to use those volunteer hours somewhere
  8. For the chance to win cool stuff in the raffle
  9. To soak up the energy of 200 other women volunteers (and maybe a few good men volunteers, too)
  10. To set a good example
  11. It could boost your happiness, according to research
  12. For the opportunity to learn about what agencies are doing in our area
  13. To use gifts and talents that you don’t get to use while sitting at a computer
  14. It’s a great chance to network
  15. It’s a good excuse to get out of work for a day, or half a day
  16. It’s another chance to wear your cool WSD 15-year anniversary T-shirt or hoodie
  17. To be the change you want to see in the world

For now, all you need to do is mark October 4 on your calendars, and maybe tell a few friends. We’ll send more details as the date approaches.


Women’s Service Day 2017–It’s a Wrap!

Year after year, from agency after agency, we hear the same thing about the WSD volunteers: “They always get so much done!”

It’s this “roll-up-your-sleeves” attitude that the agencies love and value about our volunteers. Check out the slide show to see the work done by you and your fellow volunteers—the painting, cleaning, organizing unusual items (milk jugs, egg cartons, and bottle caps, and so much more), yard work, sorting of donated items, sweeping, washing windows, shopping, making sack suppers (550!), counting and bundling diapers, cooking, sewing, and writing notes of encouragement.


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In addition to being hard working, WSD volunteers are also flexible and resourceful. You all know that sometimes needs change at the last minute and you adapt. One example: A crew from Yanfeng showed up at the Center for Women in Transition expecting to do outdoor cleaning, but quickly switched gears when they were asked if they would create some meals from ingredients that had been donated the day before. The result of their efforts using just a microwave and a hotplate (the facility didn’t have a stove or oven) were later used to feed 50 people.

Over 180 people volunteered this year. Working women (representing 20 businesses in Holland), stay-at-home moms, or retirees–whatever your situation, you all showed up eager to improve the lives of women and children in the Holland area by working at one of 12 agencies or in the kitchen at Hope Church to feed your fellow hungry volunteers at lunch. (We donated lunch leftovers of chili, corn bread, and blueberry crisp to the Community Kitchen, a program of Community Action House.)

In addition to elbow grease and enthusiasm, you contributed a mountain of diapers (and some wipes) to the Nestlings diaper drive. Last but not least, by participating in the lunchtime raffle, you helped raise more than $3,000 for the Center for Women in Transition to support costs associated with providing activities and safe spaces for children whose lives have been impacted by domestic violence.

When we say that you do it all, we aren’t exaggerating. We and the agencies you served last week appreciate all of it. You are the best!

Thank you! We hope to see you again next year!

Live Local, Give Local: Women’s Service Day Featured on WOTV

loisWe’re excited to see Women’s Service Day on local TV!

This week, Jordan Carson from WOTV4women featured our event on her segment, “Social Sizzle,” which connects viewers to unique charitable events and organizations that are making a difference in West Michigan.

If you missed the show, you can watch the video online. It includes interviews with one of our planning team members, a Women’s Service Day volunteer, and the Westcore Neighbors’ neighborhood connector, and highlights one of our largest projects ever, Nuestra Casa neighborhood center.

Thanks to Jordan and WOTV for spreading the word about our event!

Honoring One of Our Own

Waltraud BeckmannFor eleven years, seven women have banded together as the Women’s Service Day planning team to help build awareness about the needs for women and children in the Holland/Zeeland community. But all good things must come to an end at some point.

We are honored to have served our community with our friend, Waltraud Beckmann, who has recently taken the position of Organizer Emeritus so she can spend more time with her family and focus her energy on other volunteer interests and hobbies.

If you’ve participated in Women’s Service Day, you may have worked alongside Waltraud on a crew and witnessed her tireless energy and enthusiasm for getting work done. Each year she has been the leader behind our donation drive, helping direct volunteers to organize their contributions, then managing the distribution process to deliver goods to the recipient of our day’s donations.

A researcher and innovator at heart, we’ve always appreciated her fresh insights and zeal for creativity in the planning process of each event.

Although we know she’s not leaving our community, we will miss having her join our planning team meetings. Thank you, Waltraud, for your years of service to our team, our event, and our community!

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Meet the WSD Planning Team

How do seven women manage to pull off a community-wide day of service—with more than 100 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.

That’s what has happened with Women’s Service Day, which began as a grassroots initiative to do good in our local community.

It all started with a women’s build project in 2002. These seven women—Waltraud Beckmann, Marcia Davis, Cindy DeGraaf, Sue Gadbois, Lois Maassen, Cheryl Murdoch, and Carrie Ypma—all worked at office furniture manufacturer Herman Miller in West Michigan. When 50 women responded to their call to build a Habitat for Humanity house for a single mother, they had to quickly find other tasks for volunteers to do since all 50 people couldn’t work at one house.

Seeing such an outpouring of volunteerism, the group couldn’t let it go by the wayside. Every year since, they’ve been organizing a women’s day of service in the Holland/Zeeland community.

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.


Once a researcher, always a researcher. That’s what we’ve learned about Waltraud Beckmann, who has done tons of research for Herman Miller. Now retired, she spends her time helping young people learn how to be innovative. And she lends her researching skills to our team. Waltraud is also in charge of our annual donation drive.


Marcia Davis was a writer at Herman Miller until she left to start her own freelance writing business, Chez Marcita, LLC. As a writer, her primary role on the team is communications. From emails to press releases to blog posts, she writes most of the copy people read. During our annual event, one of her favorite things to do is join the paparazzi team as they go around town taking photos of the good work volunteers are doing. Marcia tries to capture the story behind every crew assignment.


Cindy DeGraaf is a Senior Marketing Manager at Herman Miller. A master project manager, she is always 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.


Sue Gadbois stays balanced between the tech world and the creative world. As an information technology training specialist at Herman Miller until her retirement, she helped people understand how to make sense of computer applications. On the creative side, she can make one heck of a mosaic—that is, when she can pull herself away from Pinterest. For Women’s Service Day, Sue helps manage the tech side of our communications process, tends our email inbox, and co-manages the silent auction/raffle fundraising event we have each year.


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.


Cheryl Murdoch is a Marketing Lead at Herman Miller. She handles all Women’s Service Day email marketing communications and recruits donations for our silent auction/raffle fundraiser. On the day of the event, she co-manages the auction/raffle and also captures the good work happening around town as part of the paparazzi.


If ever there were a queen taskmaster, Carrie Ypma’s the one. As a former project manager at Herman Miller, she keeps our team on track during meetings and behind the scenes. A natural diplomat, Carrie collaborates with the agencies and partners we work with to provide assignments for volunteers on our annual day of service. She’s also our primary social media manager. If it’s “liked,” posted, shared, or tweeted, there’s a good chance Carrie did it for our team.

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.

How Clean Is Your Car?

It’s so dry this summer, your car can get dirty in a day. Why not get it washed by hand—and help out a good cause—this Saturday, July 28?

From 12:00 – 4:00 p.m., stop by the New Community/Fourth Reformed Church parking lot in Holland for a car wash fundraiser to support Nuestra Casa, the new neighborhood center across the street from the church. The church address is 238 West 15th Street, between Washington and VanRaalte.

While Westcore neighbors clean your car, you can eat lunch or get it to go! We’ll be selling both hot dogs and hamburgers. The suggested donation for getting your car washed is $5.

In the unlikely chance we receive rain that day, the event will be rescheduled for August 11.

Stop by while you’re out and about! Your car wants to sparkle!

Invite Your Friends and Colleagues!

Join us in our effort to build community in the City of Holland by asking your friends and colleagues, neighbors, and family members (18 and older, please!) to participate in Women’s Service Day this year.

Are you involved in a book club, knitting group, or on a project team with women who want to make a difference in their community? Simply send an e-mail, or share via Facebook and Twitter to let them know you’d like them to save the date. You can also send their e-mail addresses to the Women’s Service Day Planning Committee and we’ll add them to our mailing list. If you’d like other materials to help spread the word, such as business cards, newsletter announcements, and posters, let us know!

Mark your calendars for Thursday, October 4! We’ll share more information about the day and send a registration e-mail later this summer, but for now, save the date!

Like last year, we’ll be working at Nuestra Casa, the new neighborhood center on West 15th Street in the Westcore Neighborhood, and at a number of nonprofit organizations in Holland.

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.