While these are just a few of her sparkling wonders, one of Cathy’s biggest accomplishments as a SCBWI volunteer is the strong mentorship program. Sadly, Cathy is stepping down (or should I say retiring) from her Mentorship Coordinator position; a position she has held for 9 years. Her personal journey actually began when Cathy won the novel mentorship in 2002 with Audrey Couloumbis. At the end of their mentorship session, the two remained close friends and shared their writing. When Audrey had another book published, Cathy was humbled to find her name included in the dedications. Filled with gratitude from the entire experience, Cathy choose to give back in the best way she knew…to expand, strengthen, and coordinate the mentorship program.
Even while working full time, Cathy made sure to put together an outstanding program. She devotedly located and secured mentors. While this may sound easy, it is not. Many writers and illustrators are busy with their own careers so it would often involve a little ‘pay it forward’ coaxing on Cathy’s part. After that, capable judges were secretly contacted (again, sometimes needing a bit of coaxing). Once submissions rolled in, Cathy coordinated every detail including sorting and coordinating the submissions, making sure the judges received their copies (either by mail or electronically), and then tabulating the results for the mentor. A tedious job, to say the least, but Cathy embraced it with the excitement of a 2-year old being handed a Labrador puppy! It was a time of thankfulness and generosity, which Cathy juggled like a three-ringed circus professional.
If there’s ever a moment when the Advisory Committee needs a helping hand, Cathy will be there to offer both her left and her right. Whether it’s stuffing folders for conference participants, greeting them at the registration table, or bringing cold water to the members of a panel, she will be there…. selflessly offering her time and cheerful smile.
What I admire most about Cathy is her devotion to make new people feel welcomed. If someone is sitting alone at a table, she makes a point of joining them. If a participant is lost, Cathy takes time to walk them to the appropriate conference room. She doesn’t do it for any sort of glory. She doesn’t expect a pat on the back. She does it because she believes in our chapter, our members, and our dreams. We are in this together and the best way to help each other is to be supportive.
Without a doubt, she will be missed in her role as Mentorship Coordinator. Yet, I find it uplifting knowing that she will continue to be a pinnacle example of what makes our Michigan chapter so wonderful. Thank you Cathy---my role model, my writing buddy, and my dear friend.
Monica Harris is usually an accomplice and backup dancer to Cathy Bieberich’s karaoke singing! As a previous AdCom member and a retired Co-RA, she does have to worry about her reputation, you know? She lives in Kalamazoo…oh oh, there goes her status in the witness protection plan (gulp).
Coming up on the Mitten blog: Behind the Conference Scenes, a new Featured Illustrator, and another round of Hugs and Hurrahs. We want to trumpet your good news! Please send your children's writing or illustrating news to Patti Richards by Sept. 26th.