Tribute award winners announced for 2022

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Tribute award winners announced for 2022

Tribute is a community recognition program and fundraiser for Women’s Resource Center of Northern Michigan. Honorees are selected in six categories from nominations submitted by community members.

This year’s Tribute honorees strengthen our communities by:

  • Advocating for children and adults with movement dysfunction and sensory processing disorders.
  • Working with vulnerable community members in difficult living environments and complex life situations.
  • Volunteering as a board member, committee member and as a quiet force to generate thousands of dollars for local nonprofits.
  • Tackling big, systemic issues and building community coalitions to address public transportation, affordable housing and access to healthy, fresh produce for families.
  • Developing and sustaining multiple programs with complex partnerships to ensure equity and access to important health and support services for women, children and families.
  • Blazing a trail in nursing midwifery and establishing a local chapter of the League of Women Voters to educate, engage and encourage voting.
  • Creating positive change as an insightful, involved youth leader while also advocating for sexual health education within her immediate community.

Women’s Resource Center of Northern Michigan celebrates the 2022 honorees during an awards reception at Stafford’s Perry Hotel in Petoskey, 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., Thursday, November 10. Tribute tickets are $35 per person and can be reserved online or by calling (231) 347-0067.

This year’s honorees are Courtney Sumpter, Advocacy; Mary Martinchek, Business/Profession; Sharon Schappacher, Community Service; Scott Smith, Man of Action; Pat Fralick and Robin Jordan (tie), Pinnacle; and Anna Haf, Youth.

Advocacy: Courtney Sumpter

In 2011, Courtney Sumpter founded Northern Michigan Equine Therapy (NMET) in Boyne City. NMET provides a unique occupational therapy alternative known as equine assisted therapy or hippotherapy, which uses the natural gait and movement of a horse to provide motor and sensory input.

Sumpter began her career at the nationally recognized Cheff Center, one of the founding centers for equine assisted activities and hippotherapy. There she focused on her riding and teaching skills while finishing her Masters in Occupational Therapy at Western Michigan University.

After completing her masters, she immediately started utilizing hippotherapy as a treatment tool for her patients while working at Stable Possibilities of Southeast Michigan. During this time, she continued to gain horse and treatment experience with children and adults with movement dysfunction and sensory processing disorders. The rhythmical movement of the horse helps rewire neural pathways for better communication between the brain, spine and muscles — increasing mobility, independence and the opportunity for a greater quality of life.

In 2010, Sumpter moved to northern Michigan and founded NMET. She and her horse Tank began their unique, healing work offering equine assisted therapy out of Shadow Creek Stables in Petoskey. Word spread quickly about Sumpter’s success and demand prompted her to seek out a facility dedicated to horses healing humans. Today, NMET is a fully functioning 32-acre farm named “Winnie Acres” in honor of her grandmother.

Sumpter’s work also provides a program designed to use equine assisted activities to assist and empower survivors of sexual assault on their healing journey.

Sumpter is a Level One Therapist with the American Hippotherapy Association and a certified equine specialist with the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EAGALA). She mentors Leadership Charlevoix County participants and was named Boyne City Chamber’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2016.

This amazing woman provides sleigh rides to the “North Pole” for community members and their children with a sneak peak of Santa and his reindeer – an enjoyable seasonal family event and fundraiser for her nonprofit.

Courtney Sumpter explains her complex and important work in simple terms, “When you’re on a horse’s back, you’re receiving movement, and movement is freedom.”

Mary Martinchek: Business/Profession

 Mary Martinchek dedicated her professional nursing career to advocating for pregnant and parenting women, as well as infants and children who were facing serious physical, emotional or economic challenges. She delivered advocacy with kindness, empathy and respect while working for the Health Department of Northwest Michigan for more than 37 years.

Martinchek worked with vulnerable community members living in isolation due to the cost of housing and women juggling a minimum wage job while caring for their small children.

A home visit from Martinchek to a family with a newborn provided useful information and resources. It was support from a compassionate person who helped with breastfeeding, monitoring the baby’s health, assessing the mother for postpartum concerns, and ensuring safe sleep for the baby. This crucial support validated the needs of women and families.

During Martinchek’s career, she mentored public health nurses in Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet and Otsego. She taught the importance of helping pregnant women navigate the physical and emotional challenges of pregnancy and the postpartum period. She modeled respect and compassion for difficult living environments or complex life situations, and demonstrated how to advocate effectively for services, medical care or equipment needed to meet basic human needs.

Martinchek advocated earnestly on behalf of children showing signs of delays or other concerns. This resulted in better access to early childhood services and improved medical response to serious health conditions. She also supported women impacted by domestic abuse, providing relevant options.

After Martinchek retired, the pandemic began. She agreed to return to the health department as a nursing supervisor and mentor to new nurses. She later helped schedule hundreds of immunization appointments for individuals needing assistance.

Martinchek was a member of the Child Abuse Prevention and Education Council and worked tirelessly on the organization’s annual conference and a program to provide safe ‘sleep sacks’ for all infants born at McLaren Northern Michigan.

Mary Martinchek’s effectiveness comes from her genuine care for people, non-judgmental approach, love of her chosen profession and her true respect for the thoughts, wishes and ideas of those she served.

Sharon Schappacher: Community Service

Sharon Schappacher is a quiet force behind many organizations in northern Lower Michigan, yet she rarely has the spotlight or looks for recognition.

Schappacher began her career by working her way through college, earning her CPA credentials. Sharon went on to have a successful career in the hotel industry. When her children were young, she was involved with their schools and extra-curricular activities.

Schappacher has a long history of effective leadership with local nonprofits which include Crooked Tree Arts Center, Petoskey Area Garden Club, Service Corp of Retired Executives (SCORE), Women Who Care, Women’s Resource Center of Northern Michigan (WRCNM), YMCA of Northern Michigan and Zonta Club of Petoskey Area. She has made a significant and positive impact through her involvement as a board member, committee chair, volunteer and member.

Schappacher served as a board member for WRCNM and YMCA. She served as treasurer during her two terms with the YMCA and as a member of the board of trustees for the State YMCA of Michigan for four years. During her six years on WRCNM’s board, she served as vice president and secretary and continues to volunteer on fundraising event committees.

Her impact has been described as miraculous. As a board member, she always held the best interests of the organization and the community in mind. Her efforts and energy helped ensure a successful fundraiser, no matter if she was working on a major annual event, a basketball tournament, securing donated items from community partners for an auction or encouraging those in her personal and professional network to attend events, donate or get involved.

Those who have worked with Schappacher describe her as a person who ‘walks the walk.’ She personally makes financial contributions, purchases tickets to events and faithfully bids on auction items. She has raised thousands of dollars for nonprofit auctions by donating amazing dinner events she plans and prepares in her home for ten or more people.

Schappacher has been involved with the Japanese sister city exchange program and the Petoskey Department of Public Safety Citizen’s Academy.

Sharon Schappacher is described as impressive, amazing and as a giver who shares this gift unassumingly and directly from her heart with family, friends and the community.

Scott Smith: Man of Action

Scott Smith is a citizen volunteer dedicated to causes that help families and women confronted with life challenges. His willingness to tackle big, systemic issues and to concentrate on building community coalitions makes him truly unique.

Smith has worked in three areas that are especially impactful for women and families in northern Lower Michigan – local food access, public transportation and affordable housing.

Smith relocated permanently to the area in 2010 and noticed regional rural life was evaporating, partly due to insufficient community support of farmers. As a solution, he helped build the Food Alliance coalition, gathering information, meeting with farmers and local leaders to support farmers who could then provide access to healthy, fresh produce for families. The local farm initiative allows citizens to purchase farm-to-table goods and use their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) cards at many area farmer’s markets.

In 2016, Smith ran for county commissioner and was defeated. Instead of giving up his advocacy, he began working with his opponent to develop a transportation system for Emmet County. He and others with the Friends Enhancing Emmet Transportation (FEET) coalition researched and discovered that Emmet was the only rural county without a low-cost public transportation system.

Smith worked with community leaders, attended public hearings and was a frequent speaker at gatherings. These efforts resulted in a trial bus system in Emmet County in 2019. Although the trial was not renewed due to budget constraints amid the COVID pandemic, Smith’s commitment to residents, including many women and children without adequate, regular transportation was unwavering.

Recently, Smith has focused his extensive organizational skills on the issue of safe, affordable housing. As a vital member of the Little Traverse Bay Housing Partnership, he works with key members of the Chamber of Commerce, Habitat for Humanity and the Community Foundation. His calm, strategic leadership and ability to clarify what necessitates a thriving community for all has resulted in important partnerships with Habitat and the Community Foundation.

Scott Smith’s community service demonstrates his commitment to women, children and their families, and parallels the mission and values of Women’s Resource Center of Northern Michigan.

Pat Fralick: Pinnacle

Pat Fralick worked at the Health Department of Northwest Michigan for 42 years as a public health nurse, family health county coordinator and family health supervisor. As director of the Family Health Division, she led a staff of more than 50 nurses, social workers, public health technicians and coordinators.

While directing countless programs supporting women, children and families, Fralick always believed there was a way to improve practice and urged her staff to share the same philosophy.

As an intelligent, dynamic, hard-working female leader, Fralick was a role model that helped shape much of the leadership in the health department today. She explored creative solutions and made people around her want to be better.

Fralick’s impact is far-reaching. Many people in northern Michigan have been a beneficiary of her work without even knowing it. Through programs like Child and Adolescent Health Centers, she ensured that students were able to receive access to medical and behavioral health services. Through women’s health clinics, she ensured that women in need could receive a free mammogram. Through newborn home visiting and other programs for new moms, she ensured needs were met, questions were answered and both mom and baby had a support network. Through immunization clinics, she ensured access to all residents to protect the community’s health.

One visible way she impacted the community was through her leadership of the Health and Human Services day at Leadership Little Traverse. She considered introducing future community leaders to the work being done by the many health and human services organizations an essential aspect of truly understanding our entire community.

Beyond northern Michigan, she shared her knowledge and passion to make a positive and lasting impact on state health policy by serving on numerous statewide committees and workgroups. Her vision and innovation allowed for many programs to be integrated and serve as a model approach today.

Pat Fralick was tireless in her advocacy for vulnerable populations, especially pregnant women and infants. This led her to develop and sustain multiple programs with complex partnerships to ensure equity and access to important services for individuals. Her work helped integrate services so the root causes could be addressed to ensure well-being. She continues to be a community champion to enhance the well-being and health of all community members.

Robin Jordan: Pinnacle

Robin Jordan has been an involved and visionary leader as a Certified Nurse Midwife, nursing educator, textbook author and founding member and president of the League of Women Voters of Northern Lower Michigan.

In 1983, with a Master’s degree in Nursing and a certificate in Midwifery, Jordan started the first nurse-midwifery service in northern Michigan at Burns Clinic. Her role as an advanced health care provider was new to the clinic, at a time when there were few women physicians on staff. The women-centered maternity care she provided was popular, and additional midwives were recruited. Jordan served as practice director for 12 years and ensured women in the area received the very best care at a most important time in their lives.

Jordan later earned a PhD in Health Sciences and served as a faculty member at Frontier Nursing University and Professor in Nursing at North Central Michigan College, where she taught midwives and nurse practitioners; she was known as a wonderful instructor and wise mentor. She is also the co-author of several Midwifery textbooks and journal articles. Her more than four decades as a Nurse Midwife and nurse educator has had a lasting impact on thousands of women and their children.

In 2019, Jordan began to explore starting a local chapter of the League of Women Voters, an organization with a nationwide structure and a century-old history. She had a vision that a local league chapter would be effective in educating voters and potential voters and encouraging voting.

Jordan reached out to the State League and began to work through the extensive requirements. She and a group of local women created a structure, formed committees and hosted meetings and events, initially as a geographical unit under the Leelanau League. Jordan attended countless meetings at the regional, state and national levels, all while leading local activities.

In June 2022, the League of Women Voters of Northern Lower Michigan (LWVNLM) earned its independent status. Jordan has been president for the past three years. Under her leadership, the League has grown to 90 members in Emmet, Charlevoix and Cheboygan counties. LWVNLM hosts numerous voter registration drives, candidate forums and monthly public informational forums.

Robin Jordan’s community involvement also includes two terms on the Women’s Resource Center of Northern Michigan board, and she is a member of the Hestia Women’s Giving Circle.

Anna Haf: Youth

Anna Haf, a senior at Charlevoix High School, is a passionate, insightful and involved leader within her community.

For the past few years, Haf has served on the Youth Sexual Health Education Advisory Council with Planned Parenthood of Michigan in Petoskey. Group members are invited to share their perspective, voice and insight into the current needs of youth sexual health. Haf has been an invaluable member who brings passion, advocacy and insight into this space to positively impact her own community and others in northern Michigan.

As a youth advisory member, Haf is consistent, dedicated, and interested in being involved with work she knows will positively impact her community and her peers. She asks intentional and insightful questions using critical thinking. She has a keen understanding of the challenges young people experience living in a rural community. She listens to them and observes their needs while advocating on their behalf regarding gaps in sexual health education they may or may not be receiving.

The sexual health education Charlevoix students receive is predominantly facilitated by Planned Parenthood of Michigan educators. Haf was asked what information was missing and after a thoughtful moment she said, “Students really need to know more about healthy and unhealthy relationships. I have seen too many people affected by this, and when we do receive information about it, it’s too late. I think that talking about the signs of abusive relationships could really impact the students in my community.”

Haf critically engages with the needs of her immediate community, and how those needs connect to the greater picture.

Throughout her high school career, Haf has served as a member of the Charlevoix County Community Foundation’s Youth Advisory Committee and most recently on the Executive Committee as Vice President. In these roles, she helps select grant recipients in the community for work that will impact the needs of young people in Charlevoix County.

Anna Haf is an active and involved member of her community, dedicated to and passionate about social justice issues affecting the community. Wherever her journey takes her post-graduation, she is sure to create ripples of positive impact.