Help Babies, Stay Safe

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WSD planning team members show how easy it is to help our community while staying socially distant.

Since August, we’ve been promoting Women’s Service Season, four ways to help women and children in our community:

  1. Volunteering in-person (safely) or from home
  2. Giving financial support
  3. Giving or collecting items nonprofits need 
  4. Joining (and spreading the word about) events nonprofits themselves are planning 

Our volunteers have been sharing their stories on social media–and these are eligible for our Volunteer Appreciation Awards. (Participate by October 31 to win!)

Some of our planning team members decided to coordinate a volunteer project ourselves to show how safe it can be to help our community, especially in this time of urgent need.

In operation since 2011, Nestlings Diaper Bank has been near and dear to the Women’s Service Day team since we began partnering with them in 2013. This agency serves as a central location to collect, store, and distribute diapers that have been donated by the local community or purchased through fundraising efforts. Diapers are one of the top unmet needs for low income families. One in three families living at poverty level struggles to diaper their babies and children. Yet diapers and wipes are not provided by any government assistance programs.

When COVID hit, the need increased. Compare these numbers:

March 2019 – Nestlings provided 12,000 diapers to 36 agencies in West Michigan

March 2020 – Nestlings provided 43,000 diapers to those agencies

In April, they provided another 30,000 diapers, even though no one was able to volunteer on-site until July. Finally, in September, the numbers started to level off to what’s normal for Nestlings. But that doesn’t mean they don’t need volunteers: Nestlings is primarily a two-women operation that relies on community help. Our team pitched in for an afternoon.

View our slideshow to see how safe and easy it is to volunteer at Nestlings. Diaper wrapping stations are physically distant–for a maximum capacity of five people–complete with sanitizer and disinfected after each use. Masks are required, of course. Our team of four wrapped 2,500+ diapers during our volunteer slot one afternoon.

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If you’re interested in volunteering, learn how you can help. Or consider hosting a diaper drive with an organization you belong to.

We had a pleasant, educational, and safe experience–and the reward of being able to help babies at a critical time of need.

Women’s Service Day Volunteers Are “A Dream Come True”

“This is a dream come true!” said a Community Action House volunteer supervisor, as she surveyed the pantry that Women’s Service Day volunteers had spent the afternoon sorting through and reorganizing.

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SEE MORE 2016 EVENT PHOTOS ON FACEBOOK

As you can see from the slideshow, the pantry was just one of many projects that 180 Women’s Service Day volunteers took on during the 15th year of the annual event, held on October 6. At Eighth Day Farm, volunteers put the vegetable gardens to bed for the winter, while at Pathways, Michigan, they did landscaping, painted an img_6399entryway and other areas, assembled kitchen cabinets, and laid flooring.

Women volunteering at the Center for Women in Transition put together coaching kits for the Girls on the Run program; those at Camp Sunshine worked on a mailing that will go out to potential counselors.

Other activities included painting at two My House Ministry locations, and cleaning and yard work at a third; sorting donations at The Salvation Army; assembling meals for children at Kids’ Food Basket; cleaning and sorting donated books at Ready for School, and bundling diapers at Nestlings Diaper Bank.

img_6415As in previous years, volunteers enjoyed homemade chili at Hope Church, while they watched anniversary video (generously produced by Rasikas Films) and waited for raffle winners to be announced. The raffle and sale of volunteer-produced pigs in blankets raised just over $3,000 for continuing renovations at Pathways, MI, and “a mountain of donated diapers and wipes” will go to the parents and children served by Nestlings.

For the organizing committee, this was a year of celebration and reflection. As she painted the ceiling in the basement at one of the My House Ministry’s houses and listened to the other volunteers chat, Marcia Davis, one of the original organizers of the day, realized that she was seeing a microcosm of the entire event. “We were having fun, doing some good in the community, learning something new, and meeting new people,” she said. “Those were all the goals we had set out for Women’s Service Day from the very beginning.”

Reminders for Volunteers Serving October 6

Women’s Service Day is Thursday and the planning team is finalizing details. Registered participants should have received their crew information by now. If you haven’t, please e-mail us right away. Here are a few things to remember:

Start times: Morning crews will begin at 8:30 a.m. and afternoon crews will start right after lunch, between 1:15 and 1:30.

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Apple crisp for dessert at lunch

Lunch (and lunch money)! Our lunch celebration will be from 11:45 to 1 p.m. at Hope Church, centrally located at 77 West Eleventh Street in Holland (between River and Pine Avenues, just south of downtown Holland and west of Centennial Park). We request a minimum of $5.00 for lunch, an amount that has remained steady for over ten years. Any additional dollars you can give will help defray continuing increases in food prices! (Cash will be collected upon arrival at the church.)

Your checkbook for the raffle. (Check out the slide show of sample items!) Red Raffle Tickets are $5 each or 3 for $12; White Raffle Tickets are $10 each or 3 for $25. Proceeds will help support continuing renovation work at Pathways MI, with some portion covering minor event costs.

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Diapers for Nestlings

Your diaper donation. During lunch, we’ll also be collecting disposable diapers (especially sizes 4, 5, and 6) and wipes for Nestlings Diaper Bank, a clearinghouse that provides diapers to low-income families and babies. (Or you can donate directly to Nestlings online.)

Dress for the weather and the tasks you’re assigned: work gloves, closed-toe shoes, sunscreen, and bottled water are suggested items you may want to consider. Our plan to do everything possible, rain or shine!

You can follow the day through photos on Instagram and updates on Twitter (@womenserviceday) and tweet your own experiences, too, using the hashtag #WSDHolland.

If you have a last-minute change in plans (sickness, business crisis, etc.) and are unable to participate—or just need directions—please contact us via e-mail as soon as possible.

Looking forward to seeing you on this Thursday!

What to Expect on October 6

We’re looking forward to serving women and children in our community with you on October 6! By now, registered volunteers should have received an e-mail with the details for their assignment. If you did not get an e-mail, please contact us.

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Thanks to Susan Vollmer and VIA Wealth Management, our diaper donation drive for Nestlings is off to a great start! Help us build a mountain!

For morning assignments, plan to arrive at your work site at 8:30 a.m.; afternoon assignments will begin after lunch adjourns, between 1:15 and 1:30. Dress for the weather, as we’ll do everything possible rain or shine! (Our weather luck has been mostly good over the years, but you never know!)

Our lunch celebration will be held from 11:45 to 1 p.m. at Hope Church, centrally located at 77 West Eleventh Street in Holland (between River and Pine Avenues, just south of downtown Holland and west of Centennial Park). We request a minimum of $5.00 for lunch, an amount that has remained steady for over 10 years. Any additional dollars you can give will help defray continuing increases in food prices! (Cash will be collected upon arrival at the church.)

We’ll also have a raffle of wonderful handmade items and fabulous donations from local businesses during lunch. Proceeds will help support continuing renovation work at Pathways MI, with some portion covering minor event costs. Bring your checkbook and your generosity!

During lunch, we’ll also be collecting disposable diapers (especially sizes 4, 5, and 6) and wipes for Nestlings Diaper Bank, a clearinghouse that provides diapers to low-income families and babies. (Or you can donate directly to Nestlings online.)

You can follow the day through photos on Instagram (@womensserviceday) and updates on Twitter (@womenserviceday) and share your own experiences, too, using the hashtag #WSDHolland.

If you have a last-minute change in plans (sickness, business crisis, etc.) and are unable to participate—or just need directions—please contact us via e-mail as soon as possible.

What? You’re volunteering but want to do even more?

21892903535_4d1b068c99_bThat’s awesome! Consider holding a donation drive within your network for the Nestlings Diaper Bank, a clearinghouse that provides low-income families and babies in need with diapers and wipes, for the following items: Disposable diapers (especially sizes 4, 5, and 6) and wipes. They also accept open packages of diapers. We’d be happy to add your contribution to ours on October 6! Or—easiest of all!—you can donate directly to Nestlings online.

We’d also love your financial support for our continuing renovation work at Pathways MI, where many of you worked hard over the last two years. Donations fund the paint, carpet, and furniture that makes the facility welcoming and healing for the children and families who receive services there.

  • We’ll also be hand-crafting delicious pigs-in-blankets during our Women’s Service Day event on the 6th, with, again, proceeds going to the renovation fund for Pathways. Pigs are $12 for a dozen, and orders must be received by October 1. Order yours via this online form.
  • Monetary donations may be made directly to Pathways through their website. All gifts are tax-deductible. To support Women’s Service Day projects there, choose the Building Renovation Fund option when you click “donate.” (Note that Pathways becomes a program of Arbor Circle Corporation on October 1, so you may receive a receipt from that organization.)
  • To complete the project at the Pathways MI facility, we’re on the lookout for furniture, equipment, and supplies, as well as skilled trades and crews willing to volunteer throughout the year. Please contact us to discuss our needs.

Thank you! Every little bit helps!

 

Women’s Service Day 2016: It’s Time to Sign Up!

Are you ready to register for Women’s Service Day 2016?

You and your fellow volunteers are making a huge difference in the lives of women and children in our community. Since WSD began in 2001, we’ve put in nearly 10,000 cumulative volunteer hours—the equivalent of four full-time people volunteering for a year! And we’ve raised and donated more than $100,000 to various nonprofit organizations.

WSDTeeFinalArt_badge-webThis year, in honor of our 15th anniversary, we hope to make a bigger impact than usual. In order to do that, we need not just you, but also your colleagues, friends, and family—any woman who wants to make the world a better place. When you register, please invite them to register, too! The date of the event is Thursday, October 6.

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 continuing renovation work at Pathways MI where we’ll be working on the break room, kitchen, and hallways. And we’ll be collecting disposable diapers for Nestlings Diaper Bank, which is a clearinghouse for many service agencies in our area. If you’re interested in being a part of this day of volunteering and networking, it’s time to sign up!

WSD-t-shirtIn special celebration of our 15-year anniversary, we’re offering special commemorative clothing items through Booster.com. Prices vary by item, but proceeds will go to the renovation fund for the Pathways MI facility, to continue to buy the paint, carpet, and furniture that makes the facility welcoming and healing for the children and families who receive services there. Go to Booster.com/wsd-2016 for full details and to place your order.

How to Register

Capacity is limited and you must register (first-registered, first-served) before the event to participate. Complete this online form by September 6 to sign up for a morning session, afternoon session, or both shifts. You’ll receive confirmation that we’ve received your information, and you’ll be on an email distribution list for future event communications. Remember, we’re counting on you! We plan our agency projects based on the number of registrants, so please be sure it’s on your calendar.

What to Expect on October 6

For a morning or all-day session, plan to arrive at a worksite in Holland (we’ll let you know where) 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 hold a raffle for this year’s recipient, Pathways MI, so bring your checkbook!

Bring your contribution of unused disposable diapers and pull-ups (open packages are okay, and larger sizes are often in shorter supply) and new, unopened baby wipes for Nestlings Diaper Bank.

Watch for additional details about our event in future communications and here on our website. Thank you for your willingness to help!

Questions? E-mail the Women’s Service Day Planning Committee. You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Google+.

Thank You, Women’s Service Day Volunteers!

Landscaping renovation at Pathways MIWhat a wonderful day for the Holland community! Around 120 volunteers showed up to accomplish tasks and participate in fundraising activities for the 13th annual Women’s Service Day on August 14. In the morning and afternoon, they helped a number of nonprofits in the area, including:

Center for Women in Transition and Girls on the Run
Holland Rescue Mission, including Stepping Stones Day Care at the Family Hope Ministry Center
Lakeshore Habitat for Humanity
My Sister’s House II
Nestlings Diaper Bank
Nuestra Casa neighborhood center
Pathways, MI
Ready for School
8th Day Farm

During lunch, they contributed to a raffle fundraiser for the Kelly Markatos Memorial Build through Lakeshore Habitat for Humanity; together, we contributed $1,248. They also filled a van with school supplies for Sylvia’s Place.

Stay tuned for the full story–with photos–to see all they accomplished in just one day! For now, here’s a peek at some of the crews at work. And check out the Holland Sentinel article that was published about Women’s Service Day today.

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Buy an Ornament, Diaper a Baby in Need

Nestlings Diaper Bank ornament by Carolyn StitchOur Women’s Service Day team has been helping to build awareness about Nestlings Diaper Bank since it was first established a couple years ago, and the organization is one of many local organizations served by volunteers during our event.

As the holidays are approaching, we’d like to help Nestlings once again by promoting a special fundraiser that was initiated by a local massage therapist, Tammy Hillen, owner of Harbor Health & Massage. She collaborated with local artist Carolyn Stich, who donated her time, talent, and artwork to create a unique ornament to sell during the holiday season for Nestlings. The design depicts the nativity scene with Joseph, Mary, and Baby Jesus, which also communicates Nestlings’ focus on children and families (a theme that ties well with Women’s Service Day goals, too). Each ornament costs $25, of which approximately $19 will go to Nestlings.

Tammy was inspired by Nestlings because the organization is run wholly by volunteers. She was interested in helping the organization financially because she knew the majority of the funds (about 75%) would support Nestlings’ mission to help diaper the children and babies in need—not go toward salaries or administration. Together, Carolyn and Tammy donated all the administrative costs of putting the project together, procuring the ornaments, funding the cost of materials up front, and engaging other businesses and organizations to participate as points of sale.

Carolyn decorated 200 ornaments, each signed and numbered. If all the ornaments are sold, about $3,800 will go toward diapers. What a great way to celebrate the season of giving!

Ornaments are available for purchase in downtown Holland at:

They’re also for sale on Holland’s northside at:

If you’re a business owner who’s interested in selling these unique holiday gifts–and supporting a good cause–please contact Tammy Hillen at Harbor Health & Massage.

If you’re a shopper, start your holiday shopping early this year! Get your ornament before they’re gone, while helping babies in need through Nestlings Diaper Bank.

Where We’re Making a Difference on October 3

Interested in what we’re doing on Women’s Service Day this year?

Here’s a list of the organizations we’ll be serving and the types of tasks we’ll be doing to serve women and children in the Holland/Zeeland area on October 3.

  • Center for Women in Transition creates and sustains an environment that enhances the voice, opportunities and strength of women and girls in Allegan and Ottawa Counties. Volunteers will be preparing curriculum for the Girls on the Run program. Others will be assisting with outdoor yard work and Fall clean-up at the main office and the shelter.
  • Community Action House feeds and clothes families, provides housing, and equips community members with skills and resources for sustainable living. Volunteers will be involved with general organization and painting at the organization’s general store. Others will help with garden shut-down for the season at the Holland Community Garden.
  • Evergreen Commons brings together in one place both leisure activities for seniors and the coordination or delivery of services that address many aging related needs of seniors and their families, such as respite care, nutrition, home safety, and the assistance of social workers. Volunteers will assist with the outdoor gardens.
  • Hospice of Holland offers comfort and relief to soothe the body, counsel and support to quiet the heart, and resources of faith to strengthen the spirit toward the end of life. Volunteers will do some deep clean at the Hospice House and make “thank you” and “thinking of you” cards for families of patients.
  • Lakeshore Habitat for Humanity builds housing with partner-owners based on the principle that everyone deserves a decent place to live and that our community is a better place when that occurs. Volunteers will be priming, painting or hanging drywall for a Habitat home.
  • My Sister’s House II sponsored by the Holland Deacons’ Conference cares for women with physical and developmental challenges by assisting them with the activities of daily living in an adult foster care home. Volunteers will be cleaning and cooking.
  • Nestlings Diaper Bank serves as a central location to collect, store, and distribute diapers that have been donated by the local community or purchased through fundraising efforts. Volunteers will be wrapping diapers into packs of 12 for distribution through area nonprofit organizations to mothers in need.
  • Nuestra Casa neighborhood center is a collaborative effort to renovate an abandoned home into a safe place for neighbors to gather. Some volunteers will make pigs-in-the-blanket as a fundraiser for Nuestra Casa. Others will be involved in construction tasks on-site. Proceeds from the auction and raffle during lunch will benefit Nuestra Casa as well.
  • Westcore Neighbors are a group of community members in the core city of Holland who have come together to help build a stronger neighborhood. Volunteers will be divided among several different projects, including exterior scraping and painting, for homeowners in the neighborhood.

Nurturing Nestlings

Nestlings Diaper Bank
One outcome our Women’s Service Day team likes to see as a result of our annual event is the way volunteers continue to network within the community, helping nonprofits that ignite their passion.

This is my personal story about how I was moved to connect with Nestlings Diaper Bank, a clearinghouse that provides low-income families and babies in need with diapers and wipes.

It all started with the planning of Women’s Service Day 2012. We asked Nestlings to create a wish list of tasks for the day. How could our team best help this new organization? Nestlings directors were interested in developing a promotional video. I knew a video guru. But we weren’t going to do a video in one day. So for Women’s Service Day, we provided a crew of volunteers to wrap diapers—a weekly need that helps Nestlings distribute diapers more efficiently.

Women's Service Day crew helps Nestlings

Women’s Service Day crew for Nestlings, October 2012

Meanwhile, I contacted my friend Rick VanGrouw at Ridgeline Video Communications about creating a video. We met with Nestlings directors Tania and Amy, who explained to us the urgent need for diapers in our local community.

I’ve never had a baby, and have only changed diapers on nieces and nephews, and kids I’ve babysat. But I do write a food blog. And something that Tania said during our meeting really clicked with me. “Everyone is worried about hunger and how to feed kids. But no one thinks of the ‘other end.'” And that’s how the spark was lit in me, a woman who never in her life bought a package of diapers, but has crusaded to build awareness about hunger in our country. How awful it must be for parents who can’t afford to diaper their babies.

I learned that one in four low-income parents with infants has to choose between buying food for their family and buying diapers. A baby can go through as many as 10 diapers a day, yet disposable diapers can’t be paid for with government assistance money for food. And if you can’t afford diapers, your alternative is to reuse them—or cut your budget for rent, utilities, or medical expenses. It’s appalling to imagine the discomfort a baby feels and the stress this situation puts on the parent.

So I worked with Rick and Tania and Amy. Together, we created a promotional video that builds awareness about Nestlings Diaper Bank.

In addition to networking, our goals for Women’s Service Day are to make a difference in our community and increase awareness of issues for women and children in West Michigan. I hope this video inspires you to make a difference in the lives of local families by supporting Nestlings and making our community a healthier environment for the babies.