Happy International Women’s Day to all women from the EW team on Emma Blogs, LLC.
The featured image is from SowHope.org whose mission is to help women of the Third World countries in order to fight poverty. Watch for a story on SowHope president Mary Dailey Brown of Grand Rapids. Brown travels to African countries to empower women to help themselves with provided funds and through education.
Inspiring Women at home and around the world
Note: This is the sixth installment in a feature series about Inspiring Women. It is dedicated to all women who are trying to make a difference and better other people’s lives, as well as their own.
In putting together this feature series, I was inspired by several moments in life that in particular stand out.
No.1 A dedication of a Relax, mind, body & soul book by Barbara Heller from my son Jake: “I dedicate this to my inspiring and motivational mother.” Kuba
No. 2 While on a story before Mother’s Day, I dropped in at Ace Bernard Hardware to talk about the prizes with owner Charlie Bernard. We talked also about the Lowell Area Chamber and its director Liz Baker. “You know what I like about Liz, she keeps re-inventing herself,” Bernard said.
No. 3 Again on a story for the International Women’s Day I talked to Sow Hope president Mary Dailey Brown. “If you want to make a difference in this world, seriously consider helping impoverished women. Helping women is the key to unlocking poverty.”
No. 4 At a parents teacher conference at Cherry Creek Elementary in Lowell in mid 1990s: “Mrs. Pala, we do not give up,” teacher Karen Latva said.
Belding woman works to fix injustice in education & in society
Name: Lynn Mason Occupation: retired teacher, former Ionia County commissioner, 2014 candidate for state representative
Residence: Otisco Township
Family: husband Frank, two grown sons Marty & Richard, two grandchildren Payton and Jackson, daughter-in-law Jamie
Hobbies & interests: reading, gardening, biking, walking, kayaking and other outdoor activities
By Emma Palova
EW Emma’s Writings
Belding, MI – As a retired teacher from a rural school, Lynn Mason has always been concerned about injustice, whether in education or social. But, Mason never left it to just being concerned. She got her handle on politics through her involvement with the Michigan Education Association (MEA) at both the state and national levels while teaching at the Belding Area Schools. She bargained contracts for 20 years. “When I see injustice or need, I try to make it better,” she said. “It hasn’t always been easy.”
Ambitious, adventurous, people- oriented with leadership skills, Mason is mainly motivated if someone says you can’t do something. “That’s my number one motivation,” she said. As a former Ionia county commissioner with a majority of Republican population, Mason got involved in the Ionia County Democratic Party. She is now the chair of the Ionia County Democratic Party. Mason was still teaching when she got elected to the Ionia County Commission Board, and she was re-elected three times.
She served a total of eight years, until she had to give up her seat to run for the 86th District in the Michigan State House. “I ran unopposed for the third commissioner term,” she said. “I consider that a compliment.”
And even though she didn’t win the state representative seat, Mason gained a huge following.
“I got people interested in politics, they were positive for the cause,” she said. “We had great conversations. It doesn’t make me a loser. So many good things came out of it.” And nothing will stop her from running again for the state representative seat in 2016.
Mason is working on broadening her platform beyond education. “I don’t like boredom,” she said. “I need some sort of challenge and to have my hands in something.”
She most certainly does have her hands in a lot of things. Other than chairing the Ionia Democratic Party, building up the membership and raising money, Mason is the president of the local chapter of Delta, Kappa, and Gamma society of female professional educators who put on educational related events.
The most recent one was in Greenville and at the Ellis School in Belding. The group performed a play for first graders about friendship and diversity. Mason is also on the Belding Labor Day Committee and would like to get involved with the Belding Chamber of Commerce. She is the chairperson for Substance Use Disorder Advisory Committee known as SUDAC. “I have a community service focus,” she said.
In response to how does she approach large projects such as campaigning, Mason said, “I lay a foundation and everything comes through with what I have done. I needed a campaign manager and people with experience. So, I asked for a campaign manager, because I knew I wouldn’t be able to do it alone.”
Mason’s inspiration is her athletic background. She played tennis and golf on boy’s teams because there were no girl’s teams. Her role model is definitely Eleanor Roosevelt.
On the theme of challenges in life, Mason said the biggest challenge was parenting and overall family life. Growing up on three meals a day, Mason knew she wouldn’t be able to do that as a teacher, MEA negotiator, a wife and a mother.
“You can’t do it all,” she said. “It’s okay to have tuna or grilled cheese sandwich. You will survive on peanut butter. That way it’s less pressure.”
And even though Mason is very independent, there were three women in her life that played a big role. They were her mother, mother-in-law and mother equivalent,
“I’ve learned different things from each one of them,” she said. “My mother was proud of me and propelled me.” On the other hand, mother-in-law was a retired teacher and saw injustices in education.
“She used me as a conduit, but she pushed me and encouraged me,” Mason said. Mother equivalent (father’s second wife) taught her about violence encounters. Mason has always worked hard herself and taught the same to the students. “People notice if you work hard,” she said. “Good will always come to those who work hard, not always quickly but you have to take the high road.”
Her biggest fear is irrelevance. Her biggest pride is being a retired teacher of 30 years. “I never want to be irrelevant,” she said. “I am not scared of public speaking. I am pretty brave.” In face of adversity, Mason said she works through it with friends and through relationships, and biking. “I ride my bike hard until I have a solution,” she said.
On the issue of women’s equality with men in the USA. “No, we don’t have equality yet,” she said. “When you look at the wage difference and at the makeup of those in the state and federal legislature, it becomes obvious. However, I am hopeful that more women will gain the confidence to overcome the obstacles and start going for more positions typically presumed to be a man’s job. Then there will be more equity.”
Lynn Mason, the woman behind the superwoman.
1-What makes you feel good about yourself? Lynn: When I accomplish a project.
2-How about secrets, do you have any secrets? Lynn: I have secrets. Everybody has. If you reveal them, you must have a trust relationship. I approach it cautiously: how is it going to affect someone else?
3-Any tips and advice for other women? Lynn: Be true to yourself. You don’t have to be perfect. Try something new.