Celebrating Generations of Impact

A long list of dignitaries saluted Miss JoAnn with words of congratulations and admiration – former Council Member and Family Focus Founder Delores Holmes, former Council Member Robin Rue Simmons, current Council Member Bobby Burns, Family Focus President and CEO Dara Munson – as well as a dozen other community leaders lined up to take the microphone.

Old and young people currently in Miss JoAnn’s seniors and after school enrichment programs, as well as adults whose lives she touched decades ago joined the celebration. Miss JoAnn said “My first group that I had, some of them just turned 42 and 43. They were there.”

She has truly had an outstanding impact on the City of Evanston.

Her positive attitude and warm, caring support have meant everything to those who she served. “People always say to me, ‘You work with at-risk kids,’ and I say: ‘No, I work with ‘at-promise’ kids. All these kids have promise. I work with at-promise kids.”

Miss JoAnn’s colleague who teaches writing with her, Beth Jacobs, opened the festivities with an original poem for the occasion, summing up all that Miss JoAnn has meant to so many over the years.

Ode to the Road

named for the woman
who carries the load
whose love shows us all
what it means to be cared for
to be taken truly
and only for what we are
as our own shining star
in the galaxy of people
who all sparkle and twinkle
We’ve seen what it means
to be encouraged as a queen
in the realm of our own being
We’ve seen what it means
to feel the steady beat
of the woman who doesn’t miss a day
on this well-deserved street
who doesn’t miss a tear
that needs to be understood
or a text or request
day or night
that needs to be set right
We’ve felt the beat so steady
that heart so ready
to bring generations forward
and move child after child toward
their best self and life
teaching what matters and is right
Ms. JoAnn says
the energy comes from the kids
but it’s chicken or egg
for one who gives
so freely and truly
the love just compounds
as it goes around
growing every day
here on Ms. JoAnn Avery Way.