(January 25, 2017)

JoAnn Lowrie
Photo/C.Stafford


by Cassie Stafford
JoAnn Lowrie is retiring after 22 years working with the Head Start and NADC programs in Salem.
Lowrie began working at Head Start in 1992 and worked until 1998. She then took a few year’s break and had her own in-home daycare, and then she returned to “the front side of the building” as she called it. In 2000, she began in the Management position at NADC in Fulton County.
Lowrie was born in Salem in 1962 and graduated from Highschool in 1980. She then moved to Little Rock and started college. While in Little Rock, she attended a Jr. College and also UALR. She met her husband and married him in 1981, had two boys, Robert and James, and moved back to Salem in 1990 when Robert started kindergarten. She received her Child Development Associate license at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro.
In 1991 the Head Start Program was a home based program, and in 1992, the program was going to center based. “It was a threat that Salem wouldn’t have a Head Start program because they couldn’t find a building,” said Lowrie. With her son, James, being in the program and being a Head Start parent at the time, Lowrie thought, “We can’t just let these kids be dropped.” Lowrie began to help look around for a building and talked to Cord Mosley who owned the property that the Head Start program is in. Head Start opened the center in December of 1992 and Lowrie served as the Assistant Teacher.
Looking back on what she enjoyed most in the 22 years, Lowrie said, “Head Start will always be in my heart, because just watching the kids when they would master tying their shoes, or being able to count to ten. Those little milestones and that little lightbulb would go off, and their face and their little eyes lit up. It would just be awesome.” She also enjoyed working with the parents because they would also set goals for the parents to obtain. “Just being involved in that family was a big plus.”
Lowrie also really enjoyed the Energy Assistance Program. “Our elderly and handicapped live on such a small income, sometimes it makes a difference in eating or medicine.” Lowrie explained that over the years, she has seen some people that are “too proud” to ask for help, but that she encourages people who need the help to take advantage of it, that way they can afford their medicine and food.
She explained that another aspect that she loved about the job was being able to refer people. Sometimes people call and just don’t know where to turn, so Lowrie tries to find the help that they need. Even if NADC is out of funds, she tries to lead people in the right direction they need to be in, and give them that little bit of hope. At times, when funds have been tight, she had to cover two counties. In 2016, Lowrie covered Fulton and Izard County and had to split four days between the two counties.
“I think God put me here, in this job, I really do,” said Lowrie. “Growing up, we didn’t always have the money, so I understand. It’s not an embarrassment to need the help, but if you don’t ask you can’t get it.”
Lowrie said something that has impressed her the past few years is that Fulton County Judge Darrell Zimmer has been the only Judge that she knows of that has helped unload the commodity truck. “It amazes me that he always stands in there and is in the assembly line unloading the boxes.”
After retirement, Lowrie said her main goal right now is to get her husband well, who has been dealing with some health issues since December 2016. “The main thing is just to be there for him. I also have four beautiful grandchildren; Peyton, Alex, Brooklyn and Jace.” Lowrie is looking forward to just being able to spend some time with her grandchildren outdoors. “They all love to be outdoors,” she said.
Lowrie loves scrapbooking and sewing. She has put her scrapbooking on hold lately, but said she’s ready to get back to it. “To me that’s sort of preserving the history of our family, plus the kids love it,” she said.
She commended Linda Cooper, who has been with NADC for over 40 years, for the good job that she does. “With her vision, this program has really grown. I thank her for giving me the opportunity to start. I appreciate the clients letting me be here in their time of need.”
Libby Hale, who began working at Head Start as a Health and Safety Aide in Fall 2016, was hired on Monday, January 17 to fill Lowrie’s vacant position. The Fulton County office will be open Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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