The Women’s Initiative 2017 Look Who’s Talking luncheon held last week featured keynote speaker Sue Guevara. Born in Saginaw, Michigan, Sue attended Saginaw Valley State University where her coaching career began. She simultaneously worked as the head coach of the softball team, and assistant coach for the women’s basketball team. Sue was named Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Softball Coach of the year in 1984. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Physical Education, then attended Ohio State University to receive her Master’s degree in Athletic Administration. Before becoming the head coach at Central Michigan University, Sue was an assistant and associate coach at Michigan State for nine seasons, head coach at the University of Michigan for seven seasons, and assistant coach at Auburn for three seasons. Guevara is now beginning her 10th season at CMU. She is the university’s all-time winningest basketball coach.
During last week’s luncheon, Guevara shared her journey and some of her hardships along the way, encouraging those in attendance to do what they love no matter the obstacles. From the basketball court to everyday life, Guevara talked about working her way through tough times to get to where she is today. “It’s all about embracing the change daily,” she said to an audience of more than 400 women. Each participant received a purple bracelet to remind them to “E.T.C.: Embrace the Challenge.” McLaren Central Michigan and Mercantile Bank of Michigan sponsored this year’s speaker.
The Women’s Initiative Fund was established at the Mt. Pleasant Area Community Foundation in 2003 to address the needs of women and girls in Isabella County. More than 200 women have made pledges to the permanent endowment fund, and nearly 2,100 individual gifts have been made to date. Since 2003, forty grants have been awarded to local nonprofits and programs serving women and girls, all while maintaining the value of every gift given.
Five organizations receiving grants from the Women’s Initiative Fund in 2017 were on hand during the luncheon. Christmas Outreach of Isabella County received $3,000 to purchase women’s winter coats and boots. Isabella County Foster Closet received $1,000 to provide 13 girls in foster care a new outfit of their choosing from a local store. Christian Counseling of Mid Michigan received $2,500 to start-up a postpartum mental health group. Mid Michigan Community College received $1,000 to provide busing, lunch and motivational materials to girls participating in the Isabella County 8th Grade Girls Luncheon CHAT (Character, Heart Ambition and Talent). Women’s Aid Service received $1,500 to restore the front steps of their shelter.
The Women’s Initiative serves as a legacy of women helping women and girls in Isabella County, now and for generations to come. A committee of local women host two fundraising events each year for the Women’s Initiative. The next, Kay’s Day, will be held on May 23, 2018. Tickets for this networking and social event will available in the spring.