• Susie Dunning

Celebrate Influencers


It’s International Women’s day. A day to celebrate women; brave, strong, unsung and sung. I have had the great fortune of being influenced by women who believed and encouraged me. I would like to share three women who taught me how to influence the world around me.


Jewel Butler:

As a child, I was quite invisible. “Afraid of her own shadow,” my Nanny would say. Surrounded by siblings who stole the stage, my narrow stature was easily missed. Jewel Butler saw me. She recognized potential in this meek, skinny girl. She put me in charge of things in her classroom, called on me (this was a big deal because even if I knew answers I never raised my hand), She recommended me to be a Captain/Leader in a service squad which then qualified me to go to camp for a week to learn leadership skills. I was in fifth grade, I carried a Davey Jones lunch box, I fit in all the nooks and crannies. She regarded me. Jewel saw what others looked around. She changed my trajectory as I learned to see potential in myself. She taught for many years, I’m sure there are so many with a story like mine. #Jewel


Joanne Voorhees:


I volunteered to go door to door and campaign with Joanne, for her bid for city councilwoman in Wyoming, Michigan. I loved politics and I wanted to get more involved. I wanted to meet Joanne. Harold and Joanne Voorhees were legends in my circle of friends. It seemed they had touched every life around me either as youth group leaders, young married mentors, or in public office. We had mutual friends, but we had never met. I made the call and off we went. Joanne and I knocked on doors, she was so gracious, she listened to my stories, she told me some of hers. She treated me to ice cream. At the time we met, Joanne and Harold had been in public service/office for twenty years. Their influence reached the entire state and well beyond. Joanne’s straight forward, integrity drenched life couldn’t help but change those around her. We didn’t stop after her election. We continued to go door to door, together for other candidates. Harold and Joanne Voorhees have an unwavering love for people. They are sharp, honest, and shrewd politicians. They love, shepherd, and care for the fortunate ones they meet with joy, generosity, and cookies. Thank you, Joanne, for influencing my journey. #cookiefamily


Virginia Schmitt:


My mom. At my mom’s funeral I asked all in attendance to raise their hand if my mom had cooked for them. My teary eyes noted about eighty percent of those present, she fed. She used to say, “I don’t have anything to give. I’m not sure if God will be happy with me.”

I’m sure when she arrived in heaven with a pan of brownies, Jesus said, “Well done.” She fed the hungry, she housed the hurting and homeless. My mom served with an overflow of wealth in her heart. She barely had enough money to sustain her life, but never let anyone else go without. She found hope in her faith. She went to war for all of us on her knees.

If you crossed her path you received a gift; a chide if you crossed going the wrong way, a squirt gun if you needed to be armed, stew if you were hungry, or a hand if you had stumbled. She influenced with unselfish, ridiculous love. #Imissher


This is my list for today. Hardly exhaustive. I could go on and on. I’m so thankful for God’s loving hand in my life and the people He has given me along the way.


What does your list look like? I bet you’re on someone’s list. Share your story.

As I write and reflect, I desire to: see the hurting and invisible, overflow with so much joy and wisdom those around me can’t help but be drenched, and love with generosity to feed a hungry soul.

Celebrate someone today.

~Susan