DeKALB – When she’s not working, Amy Polzin can usually be found volunteering.
“I don’t have any money to donate, but I have time to donate,” said Polzin, the office manager of Northern Illinois University’s geology and environmental geosciences department. “I do whatever I can.”
Polzin, who has spent decades involved in the Kishwaukee Kiwanis Club, is the 2012 ATHENA Award recipient. Last year’s recipient, Jane Levinsky, described Polzin as an altruistic and strong, a natural-born leader.
The ATHENA Award, which has been given annually since 1990 in DeKalb, honors women who have excelled professionally and philanthropically, and have empowered women in some way.
In a biography read before the crowd of more than 100, Polzin was described by an unnamed colleague as being the “institutional glue that holds the department together.”
Cheryl Nicholson, a friend of Polzin’s, said Polzin is a tireless volunteer.
“She does it with such ease and grace,” Nicholson said. “She never seems overwhelmed.”
Polzin worked her way up in Kiwanis, serving twice as president of the Kishwaukee Chapter and as a lieutenant governor in the larger organization. She is a member of the chapter’s board of directors and part of the Kirkland Lions Club and the Hiawatha Education Foundation.
Polzin said she was humbled to be named alongside the others who were nominated.
“It’s very, very humbling, especially after listening to all those bios,” Polzin said.
The other 2012 ATHENA Award nominees were Kay Chase, Jennice O’Brien, Erin Nolan and Eva Rey.
Also honored were the 2012 Women of Accomplishment, Micki Chulick and Rosalie Hewitt. Women of Accomplishment are held to the same criteria as ATHENA nominees, but are retired.
Chulick, was the executive director of Community Coordinated Child Care (4-C) for 33 years. Hewitt is a professor emeritus of American literature at NIU.
Although she retired years ago, Hewitt still teaches semi-regularly, and helps out a number of libraries in the area.
“The education you receive through reading can provide a background and foundation to any career,” Hewitt said, who also volunteers as a tax preparer for low-income residents.
Chulick remains active in the community by serving on the boards of local foundations and commissions.
“It’s the way I was brought up,” Chulick said. “You give back to your community that has given so much to you.”