Third Women's History Month Luncheon Focuses on 'Outstanding Women'

Tammy Shadley, Lenna Mae Gara and Joan Burge Are 2012 Inductees

March 30, 2012

Pictured from the left are Lenna Mae Gara, Joan Burge and Tammy Shadley, who were featured at Wilmington College's Women's History Month luncheon Friday.

Pictured from the left are Lenna Mae Gara, Joan Burge and Tammy Shadley, who were featured at Wilmington College's Women's History Month luncheon Friday.

Pamela Stricker cited volunteerism as part of “Clinton County’s DNA” as she introduced a trio of 2012 Outstanding Women of Clinton County Friday (March 30) at Wilmington College’s final Women’s History Month Luncheon.

Stricker, publisher of the Wilmington News Journal, moderated a panel comprised of social worker Joan Burge, author and social justice advocate Lenna Mae Gara and Tammy Shadley, a driving force behind the Clinton County Leadership Institute’s Youth Collaborative.

Gara said she has chosen her causes carefully, but once she has focused her interest on issues like juvenile justice and racial equality, “I’m like a dog on a bone. “When I take hold of something, it’s hard to let go.”

Reserved by nature, Gara, a Wilmington resident for nearly half a century, has often found herself stepping out of her comfort zone to speak truth to power.

Indeed, she was a driving force behind changing the city’s practice of jailing juveniles in adult incarceration facilities. Also, she conducted research and wrote a definitive treatise on segregation in Wilmington in an article, “The Closing of Midland School.”

Also, Gara had a hand in helping to establish the city’s recycling program.

“Sometimes it’s necessary to be an advocate,” she said. “You just can’t be afraid to do it.”

Burge is known for helping to establish the Ho Ho Christmas Shop, which provides gifts to needy children. She also has been an advocate for senior citizens, helps low-income persons gain favorable car loans and is active in a prayer shawl ministry.

In offering advice to the students in the audience, she counseled them to “see the whole picture” before tackling a cause and “look for the good” that exists in everyone.

“There’s something about Clinton County that grabs you,” she said, noting that her work for others has had a multiplier effect in good things coming to her.

“People know that when I say what I’ll do, I’ll do what I say.”

Shadley, a Wilmington College employee, agreed with Burge in scouting out the big picture and not agreeing to volunteer simply because someone corners you — you need to have a passion and conviction for what you do.

“The worst thing you can do is say yes for something you don’t have a heart for, and then not fulfill what you agreed to do,” she said.

Her leadership of the Youth Collaborative has literally changed the county. Some 200 high school students have gone through the program in the past decade completing more than 50 large projects and scores of smaller ones.

Shadley shared the story of one year’s group adopting a classmate’s family in need. They raised funds for meals, Christmas gifts, rent money and funeral expenses when the terminally ill mother died. Also, another group staged a prom for children at the Nike Center while another raised $35,000 for a handicap accessible playground at Clinton Massie Schools.

“They learned that we can really do big things if we don’t limit ourselves,” she said.