The concept for the YWCA’s Tribute Awards Celebration (then titled the “YWCA Women’s Recognition Celebration”) began in the midst of the country’s bicentennial excitement. In July 1976 a planning committee — co-chaired by Marie Neil and Anne Mulder — was formulated and members were selected, objectives were set forth, and plans were initiated for the forthcoming celebration. The effort came to fruition at 8:00 pm on February 25, 1977 at Fountain Street Church, and was met with enthusiasm from participants, guests, and award recipients. (Excerpted from YWCA Women’s Celebration Evaluation, May 24, 1977.) Its premise was ground-breaking locally — celebrating the achievements of women would ultimately help create greater equality.
More specifically, creating a culture in which women are less vulnerable to abuse and violence starts by recognizing the dignity, value, and worth of women and their work.
Over the years, the celebration grew — moving from Fountain Street Church to St. Cecilia Music Center, then to the Amway Grand Plaza, and to its final home at DeVos Place. Tribute welcomed more than 260 extraordinary women into a powerful and inspiring sorority of award recipients. Beginning in 2005 and with the aim of investing in our community’s future generation of leaders, sixteen accomplished young women in high school were presented the YWCA Judy Lloyd Student Leadership financial award. In total, between 1977 and 2020, Tribute raised close to $2 million for YWCA services addressing domestic and dating abuse, sexual assault, child sexual abuse, and stalking.
Throughout the YWCA’s history, as the roles of women in society evolved and as the issues that this organization championed were accepted and met by the broader community, the YWCA has been able to look to the future and direct resources to meet yet unmet needs. For more than 120 years, the YWCA has stepped in where no other organization has. Again and again, it has provided new ways to empower women, improve lives, and strengthen our community. Numerous local organizations followed the YWCA’s lead and began hosting events aimed at recognizing women’s achievements. In that way, the YWCA Tribute Awards proved the value of celebrating women in our community. In 2021, the YWCA announced the decision to bring an end to the Tribute event.
However, an end to the Tribute event
is not an end to the Tribute legacy.
The YWCA is committed to celebrating in perpetuity the role each Tribute Award recipient has played in strengthening our community. Equally so, the organization is dedicated to creating opportunities that support our community’s next generation of leaders.
Here you will find a consolidated and rich library filled with the stories of past honorees, as well as details related to the YWCA Judy Lloyd Leadership Award which provides financial support that helps enable young women to achieve the next steps in their life’s goals.