Our Friend, Joanie
In 1983 when a friend persuaded me to become an active volunteer for the Danville Area Humane Society, I went to my first meeting. I met Bill and Joanie Schwarz, and quickly learned that they were the backbone, legs, and arms for the humane society. During the early years before we began operating the shelter, Bill and Joanie worked on a shoestring budget with few volunteers and very little support.
As we took over operation of the animal shelter, Bill and Joanie were the backbone. To give volunteers and the one employee time off, the two of them spent all day Thanksgiving and Christmas at the shelter, feeding and watering the animals and cleaning the cages. They went out on emergency calls during the night and on weekends, or whenever an animal needed their help. The Schwarzes could also be found at each and every fund raising event, usually after also planning the event. They each served as President, providing stable leadership during a time when tough decisions had to be made during contract negotiations with the City.
Joanie became my friend and mentor. I moved away from Danville from 1986-1989, but we renewed our friendship when I moved back. When I re-joined the board of directors and then subsequently became the director, Joanie was still one of my mentors. She and her husband, Bill, never lost their zeal for helping animals.
When Bill passed away in 1998, Joanie became even more involved. She now volunteers two days each week, manning the front desk at the shelter. However, she is also the chairman of the fundraising committee, and spends countless hours on projects and events. She singlehandedly designed and stocked the new retail store space in the new adoption center. Joanie, along with her sister, Freda Burton, and nieces, Jennifer Brann and Mary Crane, sell umpteen t-shirts and anything else with our logo on it. They are a sales force any retail company would love to have.
Last year, Joanie worked tirelessly on our Paws and Claws event. She wrote to celebrities, asking for autographed items for us to auction off. She turned in mail receipts for only a small number of letters, remarking that only she, the postmaster, and God knew how many letters she sent. Her hard work yielded great results.
Last Tuesday night, when we went before City Council to speak about our programs and the new adoption center, Councilman Shanks said he was impressed with our ability to raise money for construction of the adoption center. I regret my answer. I replied, “We raised it dollar by dollar.” I should have said, “Our success, in large measure, is due to the fundraising efforts of Joanie Schwarz.”
Joanie helped build a firm foundation for the Humane Society in this area, and no work that has been performed since, or work that will be performed in the future, would have been possible without her dedication and commitment.