Two honored for years of service

Pam Lee and JoAnne Schwade of Kankakee are the winners of the 2005 Harold Award presented by the Pledge for Life Partnership.

The Harold Award -- named after the Life Education Center’s 8 ft. mascot, Harold the Giraffe -- recognizes outstanding examples of dedication and commitment to the area’s youth. Both Lee and Schwade will be presented the award at the Partnership’s annual luncheon meeting October 27 at the Kankakee Country Club in Kankakee.

There is no doubt that the Partnership would not be where it is today without the long-standing commitment and tireless activism of these two women, said Debra Baron, director of the Partnership. Both have been involved from its conception and are founding members of its board of directors. Be the job large or small, Pam and JoAnne have always been there to lend a helping hand.

Not only did Pam help bring the Partnership into being, she also named it, Baron recalled. “In the early days, it was just the two of us sitting on the floor in my living room …. Pam was the Junior League’s vice president and project development chairman and we were writing the original proposal to raise the money needed to purchase the first mobile Life Education Center (LEC).”

It was part of the brainstorming process, Pam remembered. “Papers were spread out all over the floor and we were talking about the whole program. I threw the name out and we thought it would make a great slogan. It really took off.”

Pam and her husband, Tim, were among the initial program sponsors who helped raise the $100,000 to buy the LEC unit and are thrilled with the program’s success. “When you’re asking the community for that kind of money, you really want to be able to deliver on what you’re selling. I’m very proud. It wasn’t a flash in the pan. The program really works.”

In addition to co-founding the Pledge project, Pam has served on its board of directors since its inception. She also was elected to four terms on the Kankakee County Board; served on committees for the City of Kankakee Strategic Planning Process; is on the advisory board and board of directors for the Kankakee Community Resource Center; served on the solicitations and distribution committee for the United Way; and is a board member for Kankakee County Drug Free, Inc..
Pam is or has been a member of the Junior League, the Crusaders Club, Kankakee Kultivator and the Riverview Historic District. She also has sponsored and worked on Christmas in April projects.

Born in Wisconsin, she has lived in many places, but settled in Kankakee with her husband in 1975. She taught English and coached at the former Eastridge High School from 1975 to 1978 and then stayed home to raise her three children, Joshua, 27, Whitney, 25 and Adam, 22.

Now, if JoAnne Schwade had her “druthers,” she would not be receiving this award. “People think I’ve done so much, but it’s really just an illusion. One of these days, I’m going to get found out,” she protested.

But those at the Partnership couldn’t disagree more. “I don’t think anyone has helped to raise more money for the Partnership’s programs than JoAnne,” Baron said. “She is always looking for opportunities to gain new resources and supporters for our efforts. And, she was one of the first to recognize the importance of getting parents, school personnel and neighborhood residents together to reinforce the lessons taught in the LEC.

JoAnne also was instrumental in expanding the Partnership’s efforts beyond the classroom. “From conducting door-to-door surveys to organizing neighborhood clean-ups in high crime areas, JoAnne is not afraid of getting her hands dirty or to do whatever it takes to make this community a better place for raising a family,” Baron stressed.

Like Pam, JoAnne was a member of the Junior League and involved in the initial Pledge project. However, her money-raising talents weren’t used until after the initial campaign, she said. “I was raising money with the medical auxiliary to raise awareness about healthy lifestyles. Everything just sort of dove-tailed together.”

JoAnne’s participation in other community activities is almost too long to list. For the last 15 years, she has served as alderman for the second ward in Kankakee. In addition to the Partnership board, she serves on the boards for First American Bank, the Neighborhood Partners of Kankakee, the Kankakee Valley Symphony Foundation, the Provena St. Mary’s Hospital Foundation and the Kankakee Downtown Business Association Executive Committee.

JoAnne also has lent her organizational and fundraising talents to the Ron Santo Freedom Jet Steering Committee, the United Way of Kankakee, numerous local political campaigns, the St. Mary’s Hospital Auxiliary, Kankakee Valley Young People’s Theatre, Kankakee County Medical Society Auxiliary, Kankakee County Historical Society, Riverview Historic Preservation Commission and Board of Directors, Bishop McNamara High School and St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Kankakee.

Originally from Iowa, JoAnne holds a bachelor’s degree in medical technology from Creighton University and has lived in Kankakee since 1976. She and her husband, Dr. James Schwade, have two grown daughters, Jennifer and Julie.


A Pledge for Life Partnership Initiative
1 Stuart Drive
Kankakee, IL 60901
Email: kan-i-help.org