Women For Change: A light for the community

By Matthew Alleyne, Staff Reporter

Women for Change is a Carbondale organization that, as stated by the organization’s president Gingerye Sanders, was born from tragedy. From the tragedy that was that loss of life, Sanders found a calling that needed to be answered.

Born and raised in Carbondale, Sanders worked in Chicago the majority of her life as a case manager for the Office of State Guardians before retiring and moving back to Carbondale.

On March 9, 2017, as covered by the Daily Egyptian, a young man was shot near the Eurma Hayes Community Center in the Northeastern side of Carbondale.


Sanders’ own grandson had been across the street from the incident, and had put his own life at risk to rush to the aid of the injured person. Sanders only found out when the police escorted him to her home.

“I was angered and outraged, and I went to the mayor because I felt this needed to stop,” Sanders said. 

She reached out for support from the community, and Sanders said all of it came from women.

Women for Change was created to help inform, educate, and advocate for the northeastern part of Carbondale.

They’ve held forums for different candidates here in Carbondale so that citizens could learn about the officials they were voting into office, and elect people that represented the things they wanted to see change for the better.

Kate Heist is a member of the organization who helps teach both sewing and gardening and has been with the organization since its inception.

Heist informed the DE of some of the events and projects that have come from the organization over the past three years including Project Compassion where they delivered gifts to families in the community during the 2018 Christmas season, and the Graduate Party, which they host for 8th graders to congratulate and celebrate them as they prepare to start high school.



“We’ve held a unity in the community march from Hopewell Baptist all the way to Attucks park,” Heist said. 

Heist also said that this march invites citizen related groups to table so they can share info with the community.

Women for Change’s Vice-President, Deborah Woods, said this summer the organization focused on feeding those in the community that needed it, and the organization gave out around 50 meals a night. 

This lasted for five weeks, after which they switched to weekend snack bags for children.

“It’s been hard for families that [weren’t] in the school system with everything closed to feed their children,” Woods said. 

Woods said they had hoped to do more dinners, but only got half the funding they were looking for. 

“We go as far as we have money,” Woods said. “So we couldn’t provide as many as we hoped, but we provided quite a few.”

With COVID-19 still a high risk for many, the organization hasn’t been able to do any of their regular classes where they teach sewing, but have continued to maintain the garden they have at 511 E. Larch St.

Heist said with aid from the Food Autonomy Initiative, Women for Change was able to get the Little Red Hen Garden running to help provide fresh produce for anyone who visits, both people in the community and Carbondale in general.

Women for Change also plans to continue with their march happening Sept. 19, now taking the form of a motorcade for the health and safety of those that attend. 

At the end, they plan to give away free plants and harvested produce from the Little Red Hen Garden, to both help feed and provide beauty to the neighborhood.

“We are the glue of the community,” Sanders said. 

Even with the pandemic, they intend to continue to provide and advocate for the community, and make a change for the better.

Women for Change hosted  “The Big Event: March for Unity” Saturday, Sept. 19. It was a motorcade, with the line-up beginning at 10 a.m. at Rock Hill Church, and the event ending at Little Red Hen Garden, where gave away plants and harvested produce.

Staff reporter Matthew Alleyne can be reached at [email protected] or on Instagram at matt_alleyne.

To stay up to date with all your southern Illinois news, follow the Daily Egyptian on Facebook and Twitter.