Women making a difference in Isabella County

There are many residents in Isabella County that strive to go above and beyond, committing their time and resources toward making a positive impact on the community.

Among those are four inspiring, local women who are making a difference in Isabella County. Whether it’s through volunteer work or education, these hardworking women have made a lasting impression on the community as a result of their passion for Isabella County, and the residents that live within it.

Annie Sanders

President and CEO of United Way of Gratiot & Isabella Counties, Annie Sanders, is a lifelong resident of Mt. Pleasant who has always been invested in volunteerism.
Annie Sanders and her family.
“Even as a kid and through high school, I feel like I’ve always been one to raise my hand to volunteer, to be involved,” says Sanders.

United Way focuses on the health, education, and financial stability of every person living in the area, which Sanders believes are the building blocks for a thriving community. However, her passion for her community extends beyond her work with United Way.

Sanders describes her home of Isabella County as being close-knit and believes it’s everyone’s job in the community to take care of one another.

“I care deeply about my family, obviously, but I care about your families as well,” says Sanders. “We’re all in this together.”

Sanders expressed that being a woman in a position of leadership is rewarding, because she’s able to overcome the obstacle of raising a family while pursuing her passion for community involvement. With a husband and children at home, Sanders aims to dedicate time to both her family and her career.

“I think that’s another beauty about United Way,” says Sanders. “I’m always going to work and I’m always going to strive to make a difference, and at the end of the day, I want to raise these four children of mine, and all of our children in the community, in this amazing place, and this position allows me to do that.”

Angie Evans
Angie Evans, radio personality at WCFX-FM and board member of the Mt. Pleasant Area Community Foundation.
WCFX-FM (95.3) radio personality, Angie Evans, balances her family life with her career, as well as her love for volunteerism.

Evans is a wife and a stepmother of three, with another baby on the way. She is originally from Troy where she worked at a Detroit radio station, but she relocated to Mt. Pleasant for additional experience and the opportunity to move up in the job market.

After spending time in the community, her love and appreciation for her new home began to grow. Evans could see how dedicated the community was to helping one another and wanted to get involved.

“I thought I was going to be here a year, but I really integrated myself into the community,” says Evans.

One of the first organizations she joined was Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Great Lakes Bay Region (BBBS) where she served as a member of the board of directors.

“I’m really focused on making sure that kids feel comfortable in their environment,” says Evans. “It’s something that’s very important to me.”
CFX on-air afternoon host Angie Evans talks with a guest for 4 O'Clock Facetime on Thursday, May 16, 2019.
Since her journey with BBBS, Evans has volunteered with other organizations such as the Isabella County Restoration House, a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) for Gratiot County, and the Mt. Pleasant Area Community Foundation of which she currently serves as a board member.
 
Evans says she is guilty of spreading herself too thin when it comes to her involvement, but says her position with the radio station gives her the opportunity to be connected to the community.

Evans’ definition of a community is a group of people coming together for the good of everyone who lives there, and she considers helping people to be her love language. These ideals fuel her desire to take pride in her home.

“I want the place I live to be the best place, to be somewhere I’m proud of,” says Evans. “When I say I live in Isabella County, I want to be proud to say I live in Isabella County.”

Quana Hoffman
Quana Hoffman, Saginaw Chippewa Tribal College business faculty member.
For Mt. Pleasant resident Quana Hoffman, giving back to the community may be achieved through education as well as community involvement.

Hoffman works full-time as a business faculty member and serves as the business department chair at the Saginaw Chippewa Tribal College.

Hoffman, who initially worked in sales and marketing, says she discovered her passion for education after a friend who worked at the college offered her the opportunity to teach.

“I really never knew that I wanted to be a teacher, but the first time I taught, I just fell in love with it,” says Hoffman.

She says that her classes have an open learning environment and that class sizes are often small, each containing about 5-10 students. This lets her get more one-to-one interactions with her students and helps her achieve her goal of sharing her knowledge of the business world that she has gained over the years.

Outside of her work as an educator, Hoffman has been volunteering for most of her adult life and spends her free time helping local nonprofit organizations. She was a volunteer coordinator for ICRH and has served on the Isabella Community Soup Kitchen (ICSK) Board where she is now the treasurer. Additionally, she’s both the community service chair and literacy chair of the Rotary Club of Mt. Pleasant.

Hoffman says the first time that she knew she was making an impact in the community was when she worked with Isabella County’s homeless shelter through her position at the ICRH.

“When we opened the shelter for the season, which is usually in November, I think that day we only had like four guests that came in, but I just remember that feeling that we were just making such a huge impact on people that needed us,” says Hoffman.

Sarah Adkins
Sarah Adkins poses in her office at the Isabella Community Soup Kitchen.
Another woman making an impact on the lives of people in the community is Executive Director of ICSK, Sarah Adkins.

Adkins has been working at the soup kitchen for three years where she is able to experience community impact on a daily basis.

“I get to see firsthand every single day what generosity looks like, what selflessness looks like, what putting your money where your mouth looks like, what it looks like for a community to step up and take care of people,” says Adkins.

Adkins has a background in social work, which motivates her to spread awareness about other community resources through her position at the ICSK.

“Just relaying that information to our volunteer network and all the networks we have is a way to keep everybody sort of on the same page of what’s going on,” says Adkins.

To Adkins, a community is a group of people who create a welcoming and supportive space for anyone and everyone. The more diverse a community, the stronger it is.

“If you can look at things with the attitude of wanting to learn, always learning, I mean you never stop,” says Adkins. “I think we do that primarily through our connection with each other.”

Read more articles by Riley Connell.

Riley Connell is a senior at Central Michigan University majoring in journalism and minoring in broadcast and cinematic arts. She has written for CMU's student-run publication Grand Central Magazine for two years and is now the editor-in-chief. After obtaining her degree, Riley would like to become a full-time feature writer. In her free time, Riley enjoys listening to music, trying new food, and collecting vintage clothing. She grew up in Metro Detroit and currently resides in Mt. Pleasant.