What does it take to start a movement? According to Jerry Vandeveer, it takes someone deciding to come forward and start the conversation. And that is exactly what he has done. Not once. Not twice. But, three times.
His movement, which utilizes billboards, is meant to prompt others to take action on causes that are dear to him and his late wife, Linda. You may have seen his billboards prompting us to get a colonoscopy. Or, the billboards suggesting a $50 heart scan. After Linda passed away, he felt compelled to get people thinking about their health. His goal was to help save lives. To date, he has grabbed our attention with over 60 billboards, which he believes has prompted “thousands of us to get a colonoscopy.” As a result, “more than 100 people were diagnosed with colon cancer, but [due to the prompting from a billboard] were hopefully caught in time.”
Fortunately, for the Fort Wayne community, Jerry isn’t done yet. He has started yet another movement. This time he is focusing on empowering women. “During my life with my Linda, I had been amazed at what she and most women could accomplish in a day, month, and a lifetime,” said Jerry. “Many times, my Linda would share her day at our business with women who would speak of their dreams, hopes and wishes. She mentored several young ladies who went on to have great families and/or productive careers. She always wanted to do something bigger to help empower women to take that first step to reach their dreams.”
So, once again, the billboards begin to pop up throughout Fort Wayne, although this time they highlight local women leaders with a simple phrase: Just Imagine. “The billboards were never intended to tell people what to do,” Jerry explains. “But, rather, was to put up a statement and allow readers to think about what they read and process what they think the statement means. People can get so much more out of something if they are allowed to digest it at their leisure.”
One woman leader highlighted in this movement is Paula Hughes-Schuh, CEO of the YWCA of Northeast Indiana. For Jerry, Paula was an easy choice. “The new billboards highlight women in Fort Wayne who are either survivors, interested in the political arena, or those who I believe are role models that young women would like to emulate,” said Jerry. “I believe that Paula’s successes in life make her a perfect role model that women will use as motivation to empower themselves to achieve their dreams. Paula and the entire staff of the YWCA have given women the hope that if they take the first steps to change their lives, whether it is related to domestic violence or just lacking in skills needed to succeed, the YWCA will be there for them. Because of this, I wanted to invite her to participate as one of the faces that offer hope to women who may not dare to step out of their comfort zone otherwise.”
On behalf of Paula Hughes-Schuh and the YWCA staff, thank you Jerry Vandeveer for choosing such a beautiful and powerful way to honor your Linda.
DEAR YWCA FOLLOWERS, STAY TUNED FOR MORE INFORMATION ON WHERE TO FIND THE BILLBOARD AND INSTRUCTIONS ON HOW TO GET A FREE $20 FORTEZZA GIFT CARD!