Resident passionate about volunteerism
Left, Debbie Van Solkema, a Wilmette resident, is an active volunteer. Angiela Zielinski of the Juvenile Protective Association welcomes Van Solkema's support (Northbrook Neiman Marcus Zodiac Room, Nov. 9, 2012) Karie Angell Luc~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 7, 2013 6:10AM
Debbie Van Solkema’s roots from Shaker Heights, Ohio have found common ground in Wilmette. As communications director for New Trier Township, Van Solkema has honed her voice, championing the needs of deserving others who need mentoring. Her husband is Tim Van Solkema. They have two children: Lauren, a New Trier H.S. graduate and Boston University freshman, and Mark, a Loyola Academy junior.
Q. Talk about your volunteerism, your passionate causes.
A. I’ve been on the Auxiliary Board of Juvenile Protective Association since 2005. I’m proud to be part of an agency with the highest standards that has a tremendously positive impact improving the lives of families in Chicago, breaking the cycle of child abuse and influencing public policy on child welfare. I’ve made great friends, continue to find this involvement quite rewarding, and most importantly I have had the privilege to work directly with client families to enrich their lives.
Q. Why is Wilmette such a special community?
A. The culture in Wilmette is one of community and caring. In spite of the fast pace of modern life, residents of Wilmette and the broader North Shore community find ways to maintain an old-fashioned personal caring concern for neighbors. At this time of year, working at New Trier Township, we see community members donating to the Angel Fund, contributing to the Holiday Sharing program, giving food to the Food Pantry and supporting neighbors in a variety of ways. I’ve also witnessed touching acts of kindness among neighbors when someone becomes ill or faces unexpected life challenges, and I feel blessed for living in a community where people can still care deeply and act with compassion.
Q. Why is the Wilmette community a great place to be of service?
A. In my personal experience, it’s been easy to get others to support the causes that are dear to my heart. My friends in Wilmette are generous and charitable and they readily join in support of my causes, for which I’m grateful.
Q. Any special stories from your time as a volunteer?
A. I’ve been incredibly moved watching the children of Holy Family School perform at benefit events. They sing, dance and speak from their hearts when expressing their gratitude for the gift of education they have been given. Their humility and faith never cease to move me, and it gives everyone present a fresh perspective on our own blessings and the wisdom and hope of youth.
Q. How can one person change the world?
A. I don’t know about changing the world. I personally strive to touch one life at a time. In one act of kindness; in my constant, caring presence; through a genuine, loving heart, I can have a small but worthwhile impact. In that way, I hope to do God’s work, improve the lives I come into contact with, advance the mission of the organizations I work for, and leave the world just a little better off.
Q. What’s on your iPod?
A. I listen to a really wide range of music. Right now I find myself listening to mostly country music thanks to my son’s passion for country. I’m also a total sentimentalist and listen to holiday tunes constantly as Christmas approaches. I like new mixes of old favorites and traditional Christmas songs, as well.