Food Gatherers’ Eileen Spring named local United Way’s Woman of the Year

Spring will be honored at annual ‘Power of the Purse’ fundraiser in March

Eileen Spring. (Food Gatherers)

ANN ARBOR – Food Gatherers president and CEO, Eileen Spring, has been named United Way of Washtenaw County’s 2021 Woman of the Year.

The award is given by UWWC’s Women United group to women who demonstrate leadership and commitment to the local community. Spring will be honored at UWWC’s annual “Power of the Purse” event on March 10, 2021, which will be held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Eileen Spring exemplifies what the Power of the Purse initiative is about: women taking action to address community issues,” Pam Smith, President of the United Way of Washtenaw County, and member of the Power of the Purse committee said in a statement.

“Eileen displayed exemplary leadership during the pandemic and went above and beyond every day to make sure our community was food secure.”

Spring has been at the helm of Washtenaw County’s food bank and food rescue program for 27 years, which includes coordinating with Food Gatherers' 170 partner networks.

Spring was central in developing a food security plan in response to the increased need due to the pandemic. From June 2019 to June 2020, Food Gatherers distributed 7.8 million pounds of food to those in need. That’s equivalent to 6.5 million meals to help combat food insecurity in Washtenaw County.

“I am humbled to be included in a group of women who have enriched our community so broadly through education, health, financial stability, and philanthropy,” Spring said in a statement. “Access to the right amount and types of food needed to be healthy is a basic human right, and it has been my privilege to work with our network of partners throughout Washtenaw County.”

Throughout the pandemic, members of the National Guard have been helping with operations at the nonprofit’s warehouse since its volunteer program -- which it so heavily relies on -- was put on hold.

Women United is part of a national network of roughly 55,000 members within United Way in 137 communities across the U.S. To date, the UWWC Women’s Leadership Initiative has given more than $260,000 in grants through the Power of the Purse event for women’s self-sufficiency and success programs.

Established in 2009, previous recipients of the UWWC Woman of the Year honor include: Molly Dobson, Dr. Lori Pierce, Cecilia Fileti, Cynthia Wilbanks, Verna McDaniel, Beth Fitzsimmons, Martha Darling, Pat Warner, Denise Rabidoux and Lucy Ann Lance.

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About the Author:

Meredith has worked for WDIV since August 2017 and was voted one of Washtenaw County's best journalists in 2019 by eCurrent's readers. She covers the community of Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in International Broadcast Journalism from City University London, UK.