Evelyn McGovern is celebrating 28 years of service to Women of Colors (WOC). Evelyn, who co-founded the organization in 1993, has served as the acting president for the past 24 years! Today she reflects on some memories and lessons learned as part of our ongoing “Member Spotlight” series.
Evelyn feels she has grown immensely as a leader because she is always striving to be a better person. “I think I’m a much better person than I used to be because of the work and the experience that I’ve acquired with Women of Colors,” she says. “It has given me a passion and a humbleness that I never thought were in me. I’m just so blessed! People say we bless them, but I’m also receiving the blessing.”
To Evelyn, volunteerism makes life worthwhile. She stresses that all people, regardless of their socioeconomic background and other factors, can give back to others because giving is not necessarily monetary: “It could be giving of your service or even just listening to a person. Little things you do could mean a huge amount to someone else.”
Over the years, says Evelyn, WOC has adapted to meet new and evolving community needs. For example, in light of the pandemic, we began live-streaming our forums on six platforms, including five radio stations and WOC’s Facebook page. In doing so, we have vastly increased the reach of our events “How I Overcame,” “I Am Still a Man,” and “Time to Have a Conversation.” We now have individuals who are contacting us, wanting to be a part of our platform to educate, inform, and provide resources in the community. Evelyn feels joyful that WOC is touching more lives each year: “I hope that Women of Colors will become a nationwide organization one day because our mission is beyond Saginaw. This organization should be an organization that’s all over this country to form unity and love among people.”
Like all nonprofit organizations, WOC has shifted its priorities over time. “Today we’re taking the epidemic of substance abuse to heart,” says Evelyn, who delivers evidence-based programs focused on helping participants make lower-risk choices as part of WOC’s Prevention Team. “We’re also reaching out more to individuals who are hurting, who have barriers that need to be addressed in the community—and we’re trying to find out the answers of why we have systemic problems that cause all the disparities of homelessness, mental health, and substance abuse. We try to address every issue that we can, and if we can’t figure it out, we try to find out who does have the answers so that this person or organization can help us help people.”
Evelyn, who started volunteering when she was 15 years old, says that although volunteerism has been in her bones since she was a kid, she never, ever dreamed of being the president or running a nonprofit. “That wasn’t in my vision for the future,” she admits, “but that’s where the Lord has led me, and I’ve accepted the challenge.” Evelyn is proud of herself because she never expected to accomplish all that has been accomplished with WOC: “I’ve proven to myself that I can serve my community well. It took me a long time to accept myself as a leader or president; now I accept my service for what it is—and it is what it is.”
Thank you, Evelyn, for nearly three decades of service to Women of Colors! Your volunteerism is an inspiration in the Great Lakes Bay Region and beyond!