February Volunteer Spotlight: Jo Ann Beaudette
For the City Times
By Angela Loucks, Volunteer Center Director
Quick Facts Sheet for Jo Ann Beaudette
- Name: Jo Ann Beaudette
- Nominating Agency: Volunteer Center
- Residence: Grand Rapids
- Occupation: Jo Ann worked for the Adams Friendship Area School District for 20 years; she recently retired from a vocational rehabilitation facility based in Milwaukee.
- Hobbies and interests: camping, hiking, reading
Every January, we run numerous end-of-year reports to chart the progress of the Volunteer Center. Among these is the “Top Volunteer” of the year. In this report, we are looking for the volunteer who responded to the most volunteer opportunities through our websitewww.volunteerinnerwisc.org. Jo Ann Beaudette came in first with seven responses! She dedicates several days each week to volunteering; here is what her weeks looks like:
- Mondays: Opportunity Development Center where she assists in pre-vocational classes.
- Tuesdays: United Way of Inner Wisconsin’s Learning for Life Reading Mentor program at Washington Elementary School.
- Wednesdays: American Heroes Café; and then Ministry Home Hospice to work on mailings or visit patients.
- Once a month on Thursdays: she’s a dishwasher at The Neighborhood Table; and a receptionist at the Lowell Center.
On top of that she also volunteers for “PS I Understand” and at numerous other community events. “PS I Understand” is a Minnesota support group for caregivers. The organization provides Jo Ann with the name of a current caregiver who could use some encouragement and Jo Ann calls them from home when convenient.
Jo Ann was a caregiver herself; she cared for her mother for seven years. She even moved to Wisconsin Rapids and had her mother move in with her for 1.5 years.
“Being a caregiver was hard, especially when you work. There are support groups available but they are scheduled during the work day,” said Jo Ann.
Ultimately she resigned from her position at the Adams Friendship School District (where she worked as a special education teacher) and cared for her mother full time. Her mother passed away in 2013. Jo Ann went back to work for 3.5 more years in Minnesota and Milwaukee; and then finally retired.
Now, her volunteer work pays homage to her mother.
“She was a stay-at-home mom and an avid volunteer,” said Jo Ann. “She was a room mother, Girl Scout leader and on the hospital auxiliary. I admired her for it.”
Her volunteering also relates to her previous life and what’s important to her family. “My mom was in hospice, and now I’m a hospice volunteer,” said Jo Ann. “My grandfather was a World War I veteran; now I volunteer for American Heroes Café. In my job I taught kids to read; now kids read to me! Now that I’m retired I don’t want to sit at home. I want to connect with the community. Wisconsin Rapids is my home.”