Meet the people behind Generous Hands

Front row from left: Sandy Welch, Sheri Louis, Kay Anderson; back row from left: Danna Downing, Madeleine Fojtik, Paula Schriemer, Anne Liggett, volunteer Emily Russell; not pictured: Jan Modderman-Hui, Carole Conley-Boal, Brittany Hagen

Generous Hands has been operating in Vicksburg since 2004, and is serving more hungry children than ever before. Nearly 350 kids receive weekly Power Packs, and their families also take advantage of monthly grocery vouchers for our local Family Fare as well. It takes LOTS of people doing LOTS of different jobs to make this happen. Here are some of the people who make Generous Hands happen, in their own words:

Sheri Louis, executive director: I have served as executive director at Generous Hands since May of 2011. I enjoy the relationships made with our GH families and have a passion for working with children of all ages. I previously taught preschool at Lakeland’s Creative Beginnings and Kids Crossing Learning Center.

I am married with two married daughters and four grandchildren. Active member at Lakeland Reformed Church, previous Stephen Ministry leader and teacher, hospice volunteer and a Kids Hope mentor.

I love to spend time with my family. I enjoy nature, hiking, raising chickens and being outdoors.

Jan Modderman-Hui, president: I have been involved with Generous Hands prior to 2010 as a fundraiser for the organization. I was offered a position on the Finance Committee, then made the leap to a board member position. Following Paula Schriemer’s decision to step down as board president, I took on that role in 2015 and have served in this capacity since. I have embraced the mission of Generous Hands from the very beginning, the wonderful community support and involvement and every single family we serve. Over time I have become even more passionate about this organization and the board members. I do my very best to share our mission with those unfamiliar with us.

I am married to Frank who I met through our days at Upjohn. We have two children who make Colorado their home. We find ourselves spending a good amount of time there with them. Our son and daughter-in-law have two children and our daughter and her husband are expecting their first child in September.

Anne Liggett, assistant treasurer: I love children, having fun, helping out, and the occasional bit of mischief. I graduated from WMU and spent most of my career as an accountant. Living the retired life now and enjoying it. Generous Hands is more than just a place I volunteer, it is a passion. It’s the people we serve and serve with, helping children in any way we are able. What started as a weekend food source for hungry children has become much more. Yes, the peanut butter, granola bars, and oatmeal go into Power Packs each week, but we also provide period products, school supplies, books, new school shoes, three local Blessing Boxes, and Christmas parties. At board meetings, a need is brought up, and usually, a solution is proposed and passed on the spot. It is that nimble of an organization. As assistant treasurer, I see firsthand donations ranging from coins to incredibly large amounts. Every donation is given and accepted with the intention of enriching a child’s life. I am grateful that I am a part of such a worthwhile organization.

Danna Downing, board member: Danna is a teacher, healthcare educator and advocate for persons working to improve the quality of their lives in the face of challenges, especially in the South County area. Now in her retirement, she has become a board member for Generous Hands, an agency which is uniquely focused on the health and well-being of families with children.

Sandy Welch, Treasurer: Fred and I will have been married 50 years in June; we have three boys. We have lived in southwest Michigan the last 30 years and in Portage since Nov., 2019. I have a BA in math/science education and an MBA, both from U of M.

I worked for IBM as a systems engineer for 12 years, was a stay-at-home mom for nine years, and worked part-time in accounting and tax preparation from 1995 until I retired in 2017. I was a volunteer treasurer of Fairplain Presbyterian Church, Benton Harbor for 20-plus years and held various volunteer positions in a few other organizations. I currently serve as the treasurer of GH.

I think every community needs a generous Hands — people who care.

Madeleine Lakatos Fojtik, board member: I am most content to be behind the scenes, I have been working with GH since 2013 providing graphic design—digital and traditional technology support.

I work full time at Western Michigan University for the VP of Marketing and Strategic communications. This involves creative graphic design for on a variety of marketing materials, including the W Magazine, photography and video art direction and UI support for web projects and project management.

Being an oma is a new role, spending time with my four young grandchildren take up most of my free time.

Carole Conley-Boal, board member: I first became aware of Generous Hands when volunteers would deliver backpacks with food for the weekends to the lockers of students in my classroom. For several years, I attended the Fall Extravaganza and learned more about the program. In 2020 I joined the GH Board. I have been involved in helping with the Back to School Bonanza and the Blessing Box program. I have worked for Vicksburg Community Schools since moving to this area in 2007. I teach kindergarten at Tobey Elementary School and love seeing firsthand the direct impact made on the lives of children.

Paula Schriemer, M.D., consultant: I was one of the founders of Generous Hands way back in 2004. I served as president of GH for 10 years, and since then have remained a consultant to the board, mostly working on special projects, starting the Period Project to supply menstrual products to our families and the Blessing Box program, for example. Generous Hands has grown and changed over the years, but has still retained its primary focus to feed hungry children. I have been exceedingly grateful over the years for the Vicksburg community’s unwavering support!

My husband David and I have lived in Vicksburg since 1989. I am an anesthesiologist in Kalamazoo and delight in seeing our three grown kids (and their spouses) thrive as they find their way. We look forward to welcoming our first grandchild in May!

Kay Anderson, vice-president: I joined Generous Hands as a volunteer in 2010 and as a board member in 2011 after retiring from teaching at Vicksburg High School. Currently I serve as vice-president, and am committed to serving students and families in need in our community. I welcome the opportunity to use my language skills in communicating with our Spanish-speaking clients. One of Generous Hands’ strengths continues to be our ability to adapt to meet the changing needs of the students and families we serve.

Brittany Hagen, secretary: As a child, I grew up volunteering at Generous Hands through my various school and community activities. As an adult, I moved away from the Vicksburg community for quite a few years and when my husband and I moved back we really wanted to re-engage in the community in a meaningful way. An opportunity to volunteer with Generous Hands came up and ultimately I was reinvigorated with the passion and purpose of Generous Hands and serving the families and children of the community. I especially adore the community events we get to cohost and be a part of! Engaging with the families we serve is SO rewarding!

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