From left: Lakeland Care District Care Manager Kathy Burghardt; Bob Pflum and Lois Pflum (Joanie's sister and brother-in-law); John Schmitt and Jan Schmitt (Joanie's brother and sister-in-law); and Lakeland Nurse Care Manager Jenna Pauly.
Joanie Schmitt was a remarkable individual. Born with a disability, she lived for many years in an institution but always wanted to live on her own, in the community. With the help of the Family Care program and the Lakeland Care District, Joanie did.
Family Care provides care management and cost-effective services to the elderly and people with disabilities, supporting them to live in their community whenever possible. The Lakeland Care District, which operates Family Care in Fond du Lac County, provided care management and supportive services that helped Joanie achieve her life's goals, including living on her own.
Over the years, as a Lakeland Care district member, Joanie became a fixture in the areas where she lived. In addition to the companionship of her sisters, brothers, nieces, nephews and friends, she had four parakeets: Chatty, Champ, Mickee and Sweetie Pie. Her contagious zest for living could bring a smile to anyone's face.
According to her care managers, Joanie exemplified why the Family Care program exists: she was determined to live her life in the community and on her own terms, despite the obstacles life presented. She challenged those around her and forced everyone to think creatively to achieve results. Often, when her care managers would visit, Joanie would ask them to record inspirational messages for her, so she could listen to them when times got rough.
Joanie passed away Sept. 23, 2011, but her memory and spirit endure, thanks to the generosity of her family. Her sister and brothers so appreciated the support and assistance provided by the Lakeland Care District, they purchased a bench and donated it to the LCD in her honor.
In late November, Joanie's sister Lois and brother in law Bob Pflum and Joanie's twin brother and sister-in-law Jan Schmitt, joined Joanie's care managers Kathy Burghardt and Jenna Pauly and the Lakeland Care District Board of Directors to celebrate Joanie's life and dedicate the memorial bench, placed in the LCD lobby for all to share. Joanie's brother Jerry and sister-in-law Colleen live out-of-state and were unable to attend.
Those who knew Joanie Schmitt will never forget her. Someday, someone who never knew her will rest there and be confident that no matter what challenges they face, they will be supported in living to the best of their ability.