Our inaugural honoree is well known throughout Greater Flint as someone who is “everywhere.” Her vivacious smile is familiar to many as she is seen volunteering with local charities including Flint Diaper Bank, Adopt-A-Pet of Fenton, Children’s Miracle Network, Pink Night Palooza, Voices for Children Advocacy Center, March of Dimes and many more.
Stephanie has been honored with many awards for her community service and advocacy. My City asked our 2019 Cityzen of the Year to share her thoughts on what volunteering means to her and how it has impacted her life.
What motivates you to volunteer?
I feel a sense of joy when helping others and want to make them feel special, loved and cared about. I want to give hope. I was a single mother to two daughters and I know the struggles. I want to assist in making other lives easier and better.
What causes are near and dear to your heart and why?
I especially enjoy helping children – they are innocent and need direction, love and attention. They are our future and need a good foundation. In 2003, my former radio co-host and I started the Children’s Miracle Network in this area. In our first year, we raised more than $100,000! I am still friends with the families I met back then – they are having their own children, now. I also feel our veterans are heroes, but not appreciated enough. In my job at MTA, I work to get the word out that they are entitled to free Rides to Wellness and want them to know they are not forgotten, but cherished. If not for them risking their lives, we would not have our freedom.
“People just need to know someone cares. Be that someone!”
How can everyone help make Flint a better place?
Volunteer! Giving your time, energy and talents to anything you believe in will make Flint a better place. You don’t have to be rich to help – giving of yourself and showing kindness is most valuable. My friend carries around an “emergency bag” with tissues, a bottle of water, gloves and a snack to give to the homeless or to people she might see on a corner asking for food. Your kids can help you put these bags together and become more aware of those in need, especially in the cold.
Have you encouraged your daughters to be volunteers?
I say, start them at a young age! When I was a kid, my mom had us “adopt a family” each Christmas to provide them with gifts and sometimes meals. Both of my daughters are educators and enjoy going above and beyond to help kids. They volunteer in their communities and are teaching my young grandchildren to do the same. It makes me so proud when someone tells me what my girls have done for them.
What work are you most proud of?
I’m involved with so many organizations, it is hard to focus on just one; but I feel most rewarded when I know I’ve helped feed a family, send a child to camp for a week or find someone a job. I feel my best work is when I can connect someone with employment that is a great fit for both parties. I am also extremely proud to work for MTA Flint, providing needed transportation to seniors and free rides to veterans.
Through my contacts, friends and relationships, I’ve been fortunate to be able to find jobs for many people that have changed their lives for the better. It is not a handout, but a hand up. Giving people the feeling of accomplishment to provide for themselves and their families is invaluable. It is a true blessing!
How has volunteering impacted your life?
When you see the need in this area, you realize how blessed you are, even if you don’t have much. Volunteering makes me grateful for what I have and that I’m able to make a difference in someone’s life.