For the past two years, Wilmette resident Anne Williams has been volunteering about 20 hours per week with different boards at her children’s school.
Between the 2011 and 2012 school year, the devoted volunteer served on three boards as the president of Loyola Academy’s Mothers Club, co-president of Highcrest Middle School's Parent Teacher Organization, and chair of Women of Wisdom lecture series at Loyola Academy.
Williams also introduced more human-interest focused lecture series at Loyola Academy with guest speakers such as Shirley Ryan, wife of Pat Ryan, the founder and retired executive chairman of Aon Corporation. She also started the Rambler Parent Book Club with book selections that would attract both genders. She says it was important to have different types of events to attract different types of parents, with the end goal of building a community around supporting the students.
Patch sat down with Williams to learn more about this wonder woman.
Patch: How do you manage to serve on three different boards while balancing your family?
Williams: I think there are a lot of moms that do a lot, so I don’t think I’m that unique.
The greatest thing is every single organization, they really kind of run themselves that they do have all the right people in the right places and know how to do their jobs. And I think that’s why it was so easy.
Mother’s Club was probably, I wouldn’t say was the easiest because all of them was great, but you have this incredible breadth and depth of volunteers at Loyola and I found the same thing there as I found at Highcrest and other places, where the women are incredibly talented … so they are sharp, they are organized and committed so this is their time that they want to give back, so it’s a matter of finding the right person for the right job and giving them the right information.
I never had to step in and do anybody’s job for them. To a certain extent it was just managing people, making sure they were getting the right information and that they were on budget and on time.
Patch: What is one of your favorite experiences as a volunteer?
Williams: During clean up at a Loyola Academy event, these two women, who had never met each other before, was standing behind the table and one of them said, “This was so, so, great. I lined up a carpool for my son, I found a doctor’s recommendation and I met three friends tonight.”
It just shows the power of community, but you might not do that if you don’t volunteer. If you just stand there, you don’t necessarily have that conversation with somebody else, but if you are standing next to somebody, welcoming others and taking them to the event, you really get to know the people you are working with.
And with this person you could just tell that afterward she felt more involved, more committed and that’s what’s we are there to do. We are there for the school and we are there to provide a community for the school, so I loved that experience, that made me happy and that’s what (parent-teacher organizations) should be about.
Patch: Why is it important for you to volunteer your time in the community?
Williams: I enjoy it and volunteering uses a lot of the skills I would use if I was working and so it’s nice to be able to employee those and keep them sharp. And I do think you can make a difference. I think by starting new programs or hooking people together that could either become friends or help a program go forward, you really are making a contribution and I do feel that we really are on this earth for a certain period of time and you should make an impact, you should do something.
Mothers raise their children and but I really think at the end of the day it’s not necessarily just what you say but who you are; and not only what you’ve done, but really –who you are and how you live your life.
So I think some of what I do, and I think you’ll find this with other volunteers, is really modeling for our children the different ways to live a good life. I think that’s really important.
So you definitely do it through working, you do it through other things, but for us to be a really successful community and society, we need all these components to be met and I think my children will grow up, kind of the way I grew up from my parents – being a volunteer – and knowing that they need to get involved and they need to make contributions.
Patch: What’s your favorite place to relax in Wilmette?
Williams: The beach and just nature. I have two girls that are lifeguards and there’s something that’s just really soothing about sitting on sand and relaxing.