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Washtenaw United: Food Gatherers CEO Honored For Her Work During The Pandemic

United Way of Washtenaw County

Food Gatherers president and CEO Eileen Spring has been named 2021 Woman of the Year by the United Way of Washtenaw County.  The ceremony to honor her will be held virtually in March at the "Power of the Purse" event.  Spring and United Way of Washtenaw County president and CEO Pam Smith joined WEMU's David Fair to discuss the award, the work, and food insecurity as we head toward the Thanksgiving holiday in this week's "Washtenaw United."   

WEMU has partnered with the United Way of Washtenaw Countyto explore the people, organizations, and institutions creating opportunity and equity in our area.  And, as part of this ongoing series, you’ll also hear from the people benefiting and growing from the investments being made in the areas of our community where there are gaps in available services.  It is a community voice.  It is 'Washtenaw United.'


Eileen Spring
Credit United Way of Washtenaw County / uwwashtenaw.org
Food Gatherers CEO Eileen Spring

Eileen Spring has been Food Gatherers President and CEO since 1994.  Ms. Spring has led three capital campaigns and stewarded a community-wide Food Security Plan that dramatically improved the amount of fresh produce and protein available to individuals struggling with food insecurity.  She is a founding member of the Washtenaw Housing Alliance and is active on the board of the Food Bank Council of Michigan and the local FEMA board.


Pam Smith
Credit United Way of Washtenaw County / uwwashtenaw.org
United Way of Washtenaw County President Pam Smith

Pamela Smith has been the President/CEO of the United Way of Washtenaw County since 2012.  As a nonprofit executive she is dedicated to strengthening the community through philanthropy, collaboration and community engagement.  Her vision and leadership guides the Equity, Diversity and Justice work of the United Way of Washtenaw County.  She has more than 25 years of experience in Management, Communications and Nonprofit administration.  She has served on local nonprofit boards, as an UM guest lecturer, and on local advisory teams.  Ms. Smith has extensive experience in management, marketing, communications, training and workforce development.  Her development and fundraising skills have made her keenly aware of the intricate balance of the diverse needs within the Southeastern Michigan community.


Food Gatherers

UWWC Woman of the Year 2021 Announcement


The UWWC established the Woman of the Year honor in 2009.  Attributes of the Woman of the Year include - serving the community, a leader to address womens’ needs, an advocate for women, and giving time, talent, or treasure in support of women and strengthening communities.Previous recipients include Molly Dobson, Dr. Lori Pierce, Cecilia Fileti, Cynthia Wilbanks, Verna McDaniel, Beth Fitzsimmons, Martha Darling, Pat Warner, Denise Rabidoux and Lucy Ann Lance.  The 2021 Event Chair is Stacy Collick.
United Way of Washtenaw County awards Power of the Purse grants annually as part of its Financial Stability Initiative.  These grants provide support for programs, projects or initiatives that prioritize the financial wellbeing of people who identify as women, individuals and families with low incomes, communities of color, and historically and/or systematically marginalized groups.
This year’s investments were made to women of color led organizations who are helping women and families maintain their financial stability and meet their basic needs during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Food security, K-12 education supports, and wraparound supports are the types of services prioritized for funding.Quick Facts

  • $35,000: Total of grants awarded
  • 6: # of grants awarded
  • 100%: Grants to agencies led by women of color
  • 100%: Funding to Ypsilanti zip codes 48197/98
  • 100%: Funding explicitly serving communities and people of color
  • 33%: Funding explicitly serving Latinx communities
  • 100%: Funding to organizations with annual budgets under 500

We’re pleased to invest in the following agencies and programs:

  • Buenos Vecinos: Provide direct emergency financial assistance for immigrant families with low incomes to assist with expenses for housing, utilities, transportation, childcare, healthcare services, and food assistance.  $5,800.
  • Destiny and Purpose Community Outreach: Provides new mothers with low incomes baby supplies and support.  $5,800
  • Joyful Treats: Delivers emergency food to residents of 48797/98 with underlying health issues. $5,800
  • Kekere Freedom School:** A homeschool co-op community and that seeks to decolonize childhood and liberate learners of all ages.  $6,000 (**New grantee to United Way)
  • Mexiquenses en Michigan Provides financial assistance to Latinx families with low incomes living in 48197- 48198 neighborhoods to partially meet housing, food, healthcare needs.  $5,800
  • Power of Predestiny Ministries: Provides basic need supports to families living in 48197/98.  $5,800

Total $35,000

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— David Fair is the WEMU News Director and host of Morning Edition on WEMU.  You can contact David at734.487.3363, on twitter @DavidFairWEMU, or email him at dfair@emich.edu

Contact David: dfair@emich.edu
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