2019 Writing Women Into History Honorees

The Macomb Feminist Network’s 2019 Writing Women into History Honorees

The Macomb Feminist Network has selected Winona Malpass, Belinda Carr, Susan Lawhorn, Essie Rutledge, and Patricia Walton for its 2019 Writing Women into History Awards. The women will be honored for their outstanding contributions to the local community on Saturday, March 2, during a reception at the Wesley Village Community Center. Following a light brunch at 10:00 a.m., honorees or a representative will tell their stories of activism and civic commitment.

This is the tenth year the award is being given. Each of the women being honored has been a positive role model and made a difference in the lives of others in Macomb and McDonough County. The women are:

Winona Malpass is being honored posthumously for her work as the person who initiated, and then coordinated, the first hospice program in Macomb, an invaluable service for families and individuals facing imminent death. Winona embraced the ideas Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross explored in On Death and Dying: What the Dying Have to Teach Doctors, Nurses, Clergy, and Their Own Families and volunteered to provide counseling at McDonough District Hospital to help patients and their families facing death. Her work as a volunteer, begun in the late 1970s, was so significant and so much appreciated by the many people she counselled, the hospital hired her to coordinate the hospice services she had organized. She also became an important resource and support for other county agencies, including the McDonough County Health Department, especially for the people they served through their Home Nursing and Community Care programs. She not only gave direct care through her counselling but worked to educate the community about hospice care and advocated for its acceptance. What Mr. Greg Case, Winona’s supervisor at MDH, remembers most about her is “the strong sense of empathy that she shared with her patients; . . . they truly loved and trusted her.” When she retired, a tribute fund was established in her name to help support programs she initiated.

Belinda Carr, a Western Illinois University (WIU) graduate, will be honored for her multiple contributions to WIU as Director of the Gwendolyn Brooks Cultural Center and to the larger community through her service on the Boards of the Housing Authority of McDonough County and of the Macomb Equal Opportunity and Fair Housing Commission, as well as the McDonough County Board and the Central Committee of the McDonough County Democrats. As a Board member of P.R.I.M.E. (Pride & Responsibility in My Environment), an organization that, for 20 years, provided educational options, recreational activities, and service opportunities for youth in an eight-week summer program, she partnered with WIU departments to provide workshops in a wide range of subjects, from biology to dietetics and fashion merchandising, from computer science to fire safety. As Director of the GBCC Belinda helped organize the annual Juneteenth Celebration in Macomb, a celebration of the end of slavery that brought people from throughout the region to Macomb to learn more about and enjoy African American culture. She was also a critical contributor to annual Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. celebrations, Soul Food Festivals, and countless other programs featuring scholars, artists, and activists. As Director of the GBCC she was central to the organization of these programs and, though she is a dynamic presenter, characteristically, she worked behind the scenes while giving students opportunities to develop and showcase their talents. Belinda took up the challenge of creating a welcoming environment for African American students through her work in the WIU and Macomb communities.

Susan Lawhorn is being recognized primarily for her many contributions to Loaves and Fishes, a food pantry initially organized 25 years ago by two churches but now supported by twelve congregations and serving over 400 households each month. A member of the Loaves and Fishes founding committee as well as the original—and current–boards, Susan has contributed to the success of Loaves and Fishes in numerous ways for all the years of its existence. She not only helped determine the structure of Loaves and Fishes, but has also consistently and graciously contributed to its day-to-day operations. She trains and coordinates the 30-40 volunteers who help the people who come to the pantry for food and emergency assistance each month; she prepares the monthly schedule of volunteers and fills in as needed if another volunteer has to cancel; she makes herself available via phone when volunteers have questions or need help identifying additional resources for clients; two months of the year she is one of the volunteers who interacts directly with pantry clients; she helps stock the pantry shelves and arranges for deliveries from food banks and local grocery stores. During her quarter century with Loaves and Fishes, Susan has been ready to do whatever is needed to keep the pantry open five days a week for people in need. As an artist, she has a long history of promoting art in the schools and more recently through the West Central Illinois Art Center.

Essie Rutledge, a Macomb Feminist Network member, has been contributing to Western Illinois University and the city of Macomb since she came to the university in 1976 to chair, and in many ways, to define the African American Studies Department. She is being honored primarily for her advocacy for equity and justice through her mentoring of individuals both on and off campus, and through her participation in organizations ranging from the Macomb Equal Opportunity and Fair Housing Commission to the Lions Club to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Western Illinois Regional Council. She helped complete the research that led to the creation of WIU’s Women’s Center, served on the Center’s Advisory Board, and participated in many of its programs. As a member of UPI, WIU’s faculty union, aware that women and people of color were often disadvantaged in salary and promotion negotiations–but without overlooking the needs of all university personnel,–Essie consistently looked out for the individuals in traditionally underrepresented groups. Though frequently facing opposition when she directs attention to the ways racism and sexism play out in the lives of people of color and women, Essie stands her ground, refusing to acquiesce when equity and justice are challenged. Because of her particular position in a world where whiteness carries privileges often not recognized by the very people who enjoy them, she has been willing to step forward and call attention to the inequity that often results.

Patricia Walton is being honored most specifically as a “defender and advocate for children’s rights.” As a general practice attorney, she focused on family, juvenile, and criminal law.  Since her 1994 appointment as an Associate Judge of the Ninth Judicial Circuit Court, she has established the Drug Court, the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) program, and the Improvement Committee for Juvenile Court, all in McDonough County. The Drug Court offers adults a way to avoid jail time when found guilty of alcohol and drug related offenses. CASA provides a court appointed advocate for every abused or neglected child to assure s/he is not lost in the legal system or placed in a home that is inappropriate. Advocates stay with “their” child until a permanent placement is made. A licensed foster parent, Patricia has served as a temporary foster parent for children and assisted in the training of individuals seeking a foster care license. She has Advanced Certification from the Child Abuse and Neglect Institute, a program that promotes best practices for judges presiding over child abuse and dependency cases. She helped establish the Big Brothers Big Sisters in Bushnell, became the first Big Sister there, and in 2015 was named Big Sister of the Year for Warren and McDonough Counties. Her community service includes Past President of the Bushnell Rotary Club, Board member of McDonough County Habitat for Humanity, and member of the McDonough Bar Association, McDonough County Republicans, McDonough County Republican Women, and Macomb’s Women’s Club.

The public is invited to join MFN members in honoring this year’s award recipients at the Wesley Community Center between 10:00 a.m. and noon on March 2.

Information on previous honorees is available at the following website: https://macombfeminists.org/writing-women-into-history/.

2018 Writing Women Into History

2018 Writing Women

2018 Writing Women Into History Recipients

The Macomb Feminist Network has selected Sally Egler, Martha Klems, Maurine Magliocco, and Paula Wise to receive its 2018 Writing Women into History Award. The women will be honored at a Saturday, March 3, reception at the Wesley Village Community Center for their outstanding contributions to the local community.

The Macomb Feminist Network established the Writing Women into History Award because women have often been overlooked in history. Through the award, the Network seeks to expand public knowledge and appreciation of individual women whose initiatives, advocacy, and engagement have strengthened the local community in significant ways. This year’s recipients, like previous recipients, excel as role models and community leaders.

Sally Egler, beyond the impact she has had during her 20 years as a respected teacher at Macomb Public High School, has been particularly active in the League of Women Voters. A member for 25 years, she has served as the League’s Vice-President and as Chair of the Voters Service Committee and has been the principal organizer of the forums the League sponsors to introduce voters to candidates seeking local elected offices. Egler has also been a member of the Macomb Zoning Board of Appeals, a volunteer at the West Central Illinois Arts Center, a reader for Western Illinois University’s Radio Information Services, a member of the Community/ University Partnership Program (CUPP) and a founding member of the Macomb Feminist Network. She received a Quality of Life Award for her leadership in changing city zoning codes to protect single-family neighborhoods.

Marths Klems has been at the forefront of feminist and civic activism for decades. Since coming to Macomb to teach at Western Illinois University (WIU), she has been exceptionally active in the Western Organization for Women, University Women, the Women’s Center Advisory Board, the Macomb Feminist Reading Group, and the Macomb Feminist Network. Klems has also brought her activism to her service on the Macomb School Board (2003-2011), the McDonough County Democratic Party, the county’s Democratic Coalition, and Indivisible, a grassroots organization promoting progressive political action in local, state, and national government. As a negotiator for non-tenure-track faculty at WIU, she proved to be sharp, flexible, balanced, thorough and articulate, qualities consistently reflected in her activities, whether these are primarily civic or political.

Maurine Magliocco’s impact on Macomb and Western Illinois University revolves most vividly around her roles as the first Director of WIU Women’s Center, as President of the University Professionals of Illinois (UPI), and more comprehensively as an advocate for justice and equity. As Director of WIU’s Women’s Center, she had to secure space and staff before beginning the many programs that provided support for women on campus and in the community, including leadership and diversity workshops and initiatives to counter domestic violence and sexual assault. As President of UPI, Magliocco worked tirelessly with colleagues to strengthen the union’s effectiveness by focusing on shared, issue-defined goals. In these roles and as an advocate for multiple social justice issues she has followed a similar path: thorough study followed by action to impact decision makers and legislative outcomes.

Paula Wise, during her time at Western Illinois University, directed the school psychology program, developing it to meet state and national accreditation standards and prepare students for professional careers. Since her retirement, she has poured her energy into numerous endeavors within the community. She has shown exemplary skills in leadership as Co-chair of the Learning Is Forever (LIFE) program Curriculum Committee, as a member, then President, of the Friends of the Macomb Public Library Board, and as Chair of the Creative Elder Options Committee which revises and distributes free booklets with information on area resources for older adults. Wise has also served as program Chair/Co-chair of the Centennial Morning Rotary and is a reader for WIU’s Radio Information Service. An exceptional role model, she has spearheaded many efforts to meet the health, social, and intellectual needs of the community.

These women join the women who have been honored previously with the Writing Women into History Award: Wanda Black, Mary Ellen Graff, Rosa Julestrom, and Beth Stiffler (2010), Connie Berg, Marcia Moll, and Ruth Parks (2011), Maria Dunstan, Judith Kohler, and Donna Werner (21012), Josephine Johnson, Elizabeth Kaspar, and Janice Welsch (2013), Gordana Rezab, Alice Swain, and Mary Warnock (2014), Lois Ganyard, Margaret Ovitt, and Suzan Nash (2015), Alice Henry, Alta Sargent, and Peggy Scharfenburg (2016); and Lorraine Epperson, Debbie Maguire, Pamella McLean, and Rebecca “Becky” Parker (2017).

The public is invited to join MFN members in honoring this year’s award recipients at Wesley Village Community Center between 10:00 a.m. and noon, on March 3rd. Following a light brunch, honorees will tell their own stories of activism and civic commitment.

2017 Writing Women Into History

WWIH 2017

2017 Writing Women Into History Recipients

On Saturday, March 4, the Macomb Feminist Network (MFN) will host a reception honoring this year’s recipients of its Writing Women into History Award. Established in 2010, the award recognizes women who have been role models in the community and have made substantial contributions to the quality of services and opportunities in McDonough County, whether these are civic, economic, educational, aesthetic, environmental, or health related. The Macomb Feminist Network decided to initiate this award because women and their roles in society have frequently been left out of traditional history texts. The award draws attention to the many projects women have brought to fruition in McDonough County.

The four women to be honored at this year’s reception are Lorraine Epperson, Pamella McLean, Rebecca “Becky” Parker, and, posthumously, Debbie Maguire.  Each of these women has been active in multiple areas of community life but each has also had a particular focus that identifies her passion in a singular way. Lorraine Epperson is probably best known for excelling in business and for her years of active and comprehensive support of Western Illinois University.  Pamella McLean has distinguished herself through activities that focus on health, especially the health and well-being of senior citizens. Becky Parker is readily recognized by many as the organizational force behind the many Friends of the Library book sales that provide needed funds for the Macomb Public Library, and Debbie Maguire brought her dual passions, children and community theatre, together through the many children’s theatre productions she directed.

Previous honorees include Wanda Black, Mary Ellen Graff, Rosa Julestrom, and Beth Stiffler (2010); Connie Berg, Marcia Moll, and Ruth Parks (2011); Maria Dunstan, Judith Kohler, and Donna Werner (2012); Josephine Johnson, Elizabeth Kaspar, and Janice Welsch (2013); Gordana Rezab, Alice Swain, and Mary Warnock (2014); Lois Ganyard, Margaret Ovitt, and Suzan Nash (2015); and Alice Henry, Alta Sargent, and Peggy Scharfenberg (2016).

Each of these women have had a story to tell about how and why they came to commit so much of their energy, time, and effort to the activities that help define them.  This year’s award recipients–or the person who nominated them for the Writing Women into History Award–will share their stories during the reception on March 4. The reception is scheduled from 10:00 to 11:30 a.m. in the Multicultural Center at Western Illinois University.  The public is invited.  For further information contact Maria Dunstan at dunstanm@comcast.net.

More detailed descriptions of the 2017 award recipients follow.

Lorraine Epperson, a lifelong resident of McDonough County, has contributed much to the well-being of our community through her leadership and service.  After a career as a high school teacher and counselor, she became a realtor and broker, earning multiple awards, including Century 21’s Realtor of the Year and the Macomb Area Chamber of Commerce 2015 Business Leader of the Year. Throughout her career, Lorraine has mentored other women and has helped to transform the local realty business from one dominated by men to one where she and other women have excelled. In addition, Lorraine has remained a loyal and active WIU supporter.  She serves on the WIU Foundation Board and the Advisory Board for the College of Arts and Sciences. She is a Past President of the WIU Alumni Council and of the WIU Performing Arts Society. After serving on the Board of Governor’s Universities, Lorraine served on WIU’s Board of Trustees for ten years, three years as Chair. She has received the Distinguished Alumni Award and College of Business Distinguished Alumni Award and is a Sigma Sigma Sigma Society National Woman of Distinction. Lorraine helped initiate the Community Quality of Life Awards and earned the Isaac and Ethel Leighty Community Award from the McDonough County United Way.

Debbie Maguire spent more than two decades working with young people in McDonough County. She was especially active in two venues:  the Cub Scouts and the Macomb Community Theatre. Debbie was a scout leader before she had children and continued that work after her three sons, Tom, Tim, and Ted, were born. In addition to working with the St. Paul Pack, she worked with scouting programs throughout McDonough and nearby counties. Her interest in children meshed with her love of theatre and was evident in that 14 of the 33 plays she directed for the Macomb Community Theatre (MCT) showcased local children. Her involvement with community theatre was so important that Patrick Stout, in a Macomb Journal editorial at the time of her death in 2004, called her Macomb’s “first lady of community theatre.” To insure the theatre’s success, she not only directed plays but also took on countless backstage and administrative responsibilities, including maintaining the MCT website. She received a Quality of Life Award in 1998, a Performing Arts Society Award for Development of Children’s Theatre in 1994, Catholic Youth Services Award in 1988, a St. George Medal and District Award of Merit in 1984 from Boy Scouts of America, and the McDonough County Youth Service Award in 1990.

Pamella McLean’s volunteer activities, though varied, reflect what she enjoys as well as years of dedication to community health, especially of senior citizens.  She has served as a YMCA board member and has offered yoga and line dancing instruction at the Y for many years. Though participants in her early yoga classes were not usually seniors, the line dancing has been offered primarily through the Y’s senior center and has incorporated performances at local senior living facilities. Beyond the YMCA, but also reflecting her commitment to seniors, is Pam’s participation in 16 Walk to End Alzheimer’s events and her many activities at Wesley Village. Besides serving as a member and president of the Wesley Village board and as a member of the Steering Committee for Household Transformation, Pam has taught chair yoga there and regularly plays the piano for residents. She is one of only two volunteers who have received Wesley’s Excellence in Service Award. She prepares and broadcasts a weekly Health Is Wealth program for WIU’s Audio Information Service and earlier community activities include library and classroom reader at Lincoln School and GED tutor at Spoon River College. Her personal interest in the people with whom she interacts adds significantly to the value of her volunteer activities.

Rebecca “Becky” Parker is probably best known for her very successful Friends of the Library book sales, sales that have earned over $100,000 for the Macomb Public Library and reflect her creative organizational skills as well as countless hours of behind-the-scenes work.  With the help of her husband Sam and several other volunteers, Becky sorts thousands of donated books, DVDs, and CDs into user-friendly categories for the multiple sales scheduled each year. Under her guidance the book sales have increased in quality and quantity, have become a major source of library funds, and provide a rich source of reading material for the community. Becky is on the boards of Friends of the Library, the Anna Parker Club, and the Macomb Feminist Network (MFN).   She also reads for the Radio Information Service and has taught several LIFE classes. Before she retired, Becky taught courses in public speaking, interview techniques, and human communication in Western Illinois University’s communication department and was recognized as an outstanding teacher. An active union member, she represented her University Professionals of Illinois constituents for seven years. She enjoys board and card games of all kinds, perhaps for the social dynamics they involve as well as their intellectual challenge.

2016 Writing Women Into History Celebration Pictures

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New Website for MFN

Welcome to the new web space for the Macomb Feminists Network.  We hope this WordPress based site will allow for more current information to be shared with our members.

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