Kim O’Lone recognized for 17 years of PTA volunteering

  Kim O'Lone, center, was recognized as the Volunteer
  of the Year by the Homewood District 153 PTA. She
  is congratulated by, from left, Josh Eisenberg,
  incoming president; Jen Merrill, membership chair;
  Kim Mayton, fundraising chair; and Ann Marie,
  PTA president.
(Provided photo)
 
The Homewood District 153 Parent-Teacher Association selected Kim O’Lone recipient of the 2017 Volunteer of the Year Award.
 
O’Lone says she can’t believe she’s been a PTA member for 17 years. Her daughter Rosemary Joyce is a freshman at the University of Minnesota and daughter Elizabeth Joyce is a senior at the University of Chicago. Most parents would have quit their involvement years ago, but she encourages more people to join the PTA.
 
“It’s only $10 a year for a membership. I believe we should all be supporting the schools, especially since state support is declining. PTA is a strong volunteer organization and you can help keep the schools strong.“
 
O’Lone and her husband, Jim Joyce, moved to Homewood in the 1980s. For many years, she had a manager’s job with the Environmental Protection Agency, but when their girls were nearing school age the parents had conflicting job schedules that would take them out of town. O’Lone decided it was time to quit work.
 
As a stay-at-home mom, she joined the PTA.
 
“My mother was treasurer of the PTA when I was in high school, so I was converted. I just thought that’s what you did. When you had kids in school you joined the PTA, so I automatically signed up,” she recalled.
 
It was a year of controversy in District 153 with the district preparing to convert neighborhood schools to grade centers.
 
“I was new and it was such an emotional time and I was glad I was involved in the schools," she said. Working with the teachers and staff gave her insights into how Homewood schools were functioning. "You feel comfortable with the administrators and you know (despite the change) it’s going to be OK,” she said.
 
O’Lone’s first PTA volunteer effort was kindergarten room mom. She became an art volunteer with the Picture Lady program, and then became chair of the program.
 
The next thing O'Lone knew, she was taking on the role of president-elect and that moved her into the presidency. One role she never took on was coordinating a bake sale, she said with a smile.
 
As president-elect, O’Lone took over management of Market Day, a major fundraiser for PTA that allowed the community to order meats and other edibles. O’Lone kept that volunteer role until Market Day shut down in 2015 and the PTA lost the fundraiser.  She then helped the board investigate its next step and establish a relationship with Schwan’s, the latest food delivery service.
 
Today O’Lone is doing publicity for the PTA, but she sees the role more as an adviser. Her many years with District 153 PTA allow her to give an historical perspective to issues the PTA faces.
 
O’Lone and her husband are strong supporters of the schools, whether that’s Foundation 153, the Music Parents Association, the Homewood-Flossmoor Parents Association, and the parents organizations that help raise funds for the H-F musical tours.
 
Her daughters participated in five music tours and she did publicity for each of those. 
 
As if her schedule isn’t full enough, O’Lone has been a Girl Scout leader and received a 20-year service pin in 2016. She led Troop 60775 for years until her girls aged out of Girl Scouts when they graduated from H-F High last year. Now she’s a co-leader for the troop that she converted to serve District 153 kindergarteners.
 
She’s a standing elder at Flossmoor Community Church.
 
After returning to her EPA job in 2008, it took O’Lone five years to regain her status as a manager with the Region 5 Land and Chemical Division that awards grants to states and tribes dealing with hazardous waste.
 
Through her job, she serves as the representative to the EPA chapter of the Executive Committee Federal Managers Association.
 
Some days she’s running to a 7 p.m. meeting after getting off the 6:50 p.m. train that brought her to Homewood from her job in Chicago. Her calendar usually has two or three evening meetings a week.
 
“My girls are joining committees now at college and I think, ‘What have I done to them?’” she says with a chuckle.

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