Women’s Resource Center of Northern Michigan (WRCNM) will celebrate six community members during the Tribute awards reception at Stafford’s Perry Hotel in Petoskey, 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., Thursday Nov. 10.
Tribute reception tickets are $25 per person, reserved by calling the WRCNM main office at (231) 347-0067. Community members submitted nominations in six categories. Highlighted below are a few of the accomplishments of this year’s community-nominated Tribute award recipients.
Ginger Stevens saw people in need of food and shelter in Charlevoix County and envisioned a way to reach those she saw slipping through the cracks of society. The nondenominational, ecumenical ministry she opened, Third Day Fellowship, is a drop-in center with a twice-weekly food pantry, free Wi-Fi used regularly by students after school, voluntary chapel services and a staff of volunteers willing to lend a helping hand or understanding ear.
Stevens became aware of women and children in a state of chronic homelessness, staying where they could for as long as they could until having to move with little to no advance notice. Stevens rallied the community around her vision for Joppa House, transitional housing for women and children who are homeless or facing homelessness. An old convent was donated and renovated into a modern home for women and children. Curriculum was written to provide a weekly class to help the women learn life skills.
Ginger Stevens has created a legacy of helping women and children, who were once nearly invisible in Charlevoix County, experience love and understand their value.
Business & Professions Award
Paula Musilek has tirelessly helped female clients dealing with substance use disorders for the past 15 years as a lead member of the Harbor Hall outpatient services clinical team.
Those who know Musilek describe her as passionately driven in her dedication to serving women as they heal from their addictions, as well as hard-working, dedicated, professional and kind.
Musilek has a never-ending schedule, yet always extends herself professionally to meet the needs of her clients. Her female-specific counseling and therapy have had an enormous impact on women in the community. She fearlessly addresses tough issues while providing a strength-based treatment approach that incorporates addiction recovery and hope for positive change. She also understands the broad-reaching effects of her work for each person, their family and the community.
Musilek’s grass-roots understanding of the problems women face with substance use acts as a foundation for her professional education and development.
She is not only passionate about providing counseling services, but also furthering her understanding of clinical needs through continued professional development.
As a professional and certified addictions counselor, Musilek is highly sought after in the community and is well-known for providing caring, empathic treatment.
Community Service Award
Lisa Blanchard is known as a passionate advocate, loyal friend, community-minded volunteer and lifelong learner through her decades-long involvement with dozens of nonprofits and organizations.
Lisa Blanchard’s decades-long involvement with dozens of nonprofits and organizations has positioned her as a continuing learner, passionate advocate, loyal friend and dedicated community-minded volunteer.
Blanchard has served on the board of the Petoskey-Harbor Springs Area Community Foundation for more than 14 years and is the current board president. Her leadership style is accessible, enthusiastic and dedicated even if the project at hand requires months of work prior to board review and approval.
Blanchard served on the Resort Township Planning Commission for the past 15 years focused on preserving the beauty of the township through smart development. She has also served on the Women’s Resource Center of Northern Michigan (WRCNM) Board of Directors and is a past board president.
Blanchard’s concern for community has also touched Sunday Soup Kitchen, Leadership Little Traverse, Northern Chaplain Services, Women Who Care Giving Circle, Walloon Trust and Conservancy and First Presbyterian Church just to name a few.
Blanchard believes in possibilities, action and the hope for improvement. Those who have worked with Blanchard describe her as someone who supports others professionally and personally, and as someone who has had an impact on our community that is both deep and wide.
Man of Action Award
Steve Van Dam
Steve Van Dam is a father, grandfather, husband, business owner and a pioneer of epoxy and wood boatbuilding in North America. Van Dam is also a community leader and man of action.
Social change happens gradually through seemingly small, every day actions. Van Dam has taken a number of actions to become more aware of the issue of violence against women and the root causes of this pervasive societal problem. He has learned about the subtle, yet strong messaging of violence, degradation and objectification of women that occurs daily in the world. Through education and awareness-building efforts, he has become more knowledgeable about the significance of those influences in our culture and society. He has also taken action.
Van Dam decided to stop playing music in his business that degrades women and promotes violence against them.
He has prominently placed posters in employee spaces that portray messages of non-violence and respectful relationships. He and his son Ben, now president of Van Dam Custom Boats, have been contributors and active members of the 100 Men Campaign which aims to engage local men in the movement to end violence against women.
He attends and takes part in community educational events and is working with the WRCNM on a collaborative project illustrating how one person can create a ripple-effect to positively impact family, friends, associates, employees and others in the community and beyond.
Martha Lancaster works courageously and energetically for causes she believes will make our community a better place.
After receiving a graduate degree in Health Administration, Lancaster worked at U of M hospital until moving to Petoskey in 1981 to take a job at Burns Clinic. Almost immediately, she joined the Board of Directors of Northern Michigan Planned Parenthood and also began volunteering at the WRCNM’s Safe Home.
After working at the Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council for several years, Lancaster joined Planned Parenthood as Associate Director in 1990. She coordinated the agency’s fundraising, public affairs and outreach education for 15 years. During that time, she helped Planned Parenthood grow from one small health center to five. Martha ended her working career as Executive Director of Char-Em United Way, where she helped rejuvenate that organization’s impact.
As a concerned and civic-minded individual, Lancaster helped form a local chapter of the National Organization for Women. She was a founder of Citizens for Alternatives to Chemical Contamination (CACC) which informed the community about dangers of lawn, garden and other pesticides. Lancaster is also a founding member of the Hestia Women’s Giving Circle, a group that has granted more than $338,000 to programs serving women and girls in Emmet County.
In retirement, Lancaster continues to gives back to the community as a United Way Literacy Corps volunteer working with elementary school students, as an AARP-Tax Aide helping low income seniors file income taxes, as a Red Cross Local Disaster Team member and as Conservation Co-Chair for Petoskey Audubon.
Emily Kurburski, a high achieving student and engaged community member, is a Petoskey High School (PHS) graduate attending Kettering University. While at PHS, Kurburski earned the Girl Scouts Gold Award for her hours working on a project with WRCNM staff to develop violence prevention curriculum for middle school students. Additionally, she handcrafted scarves for domestic abuse survivors. She was also one of 23 grant recipients nationwide to earn funding for a project through generationOn to provide fresh, healthy meals to domestic abuse survivors residing at the WRCNM Safe Home.
Kurburski’s involvement spans many organizations such as Emmet County 4-H, Great Lakes Electric Co-op Youth Leadership Summit, Crooked Tree Youth Leadership Academy, First Tee Life Skills and Leadership Academy and National Grange. Last year she and other PHS students medaled for top 20 in the world at DECA International Career Development Conference.
Kurburski was also recognized with the Char-Em United Way Michigan Student Service Award by donating more than 400 hours of volunteer time during her four years of high school, as well as the Farm Bureau Scholar-Athlete Award, First Tee of Northern Michigan Scholar Award.
Kurburski’s advice for other young people, “Find something you are passionate about, reach out to others with background in that subject and finally make a difference!”