Darien Women’s Club Woman of the Year: Deb Uhlar
By: Mary Andersen, Mark DeLay School
Have you met the Darien Women’s Club Woman of the Year for 2016? Her name is Deb Uhlar and she is tireless in her efforts of giving back to the community of Darien and its surrounding areas. Not only is she extremely hard working, she is also very modest. When I initially asked her if she would like to be the subject of an article for the Darien Neighbors Magazine, she said, “No.” It took a little coaxing from our DeLay School principal, Mrs. Lisa Kompare, for her to agree. Deb was surprised with her Woman of the Year for 2016 award at the May Banquet. Her humbleness makes her that more endearing.
Deb has lived in Darien for 21 years. She has three kids, ages 26, 24, and 21, who all went through District #61. Her daughter, Abby, was part of the pilot program for all day kindergarten at Fairview School. Her 2 daughters attended K.I.D.S. Club for a couple of years before she started working for the district. She and her husband have fond memories of all of the wonderful opportunities their kids had in school. It went beyond just strong academics. They were also involved in sports, band, chorus and even theater. There are moments when she and her husband miss the hectic lives of keeping up with all of the different kid-centric activities. . .but those moments are fleeting.
It seems that Deb thrives on keeping herself busy. She has a master’s degree in social work from the University of Michigan. She was a medical social worker at Mercy Hospital in downtown Chicago for almost 20 years. After that many years she decided she needed a break from the stress and changes within the healthcare system. She wanted more challenges after staying home with her kids for awhile. One interesting job was being a census taker for the 2000 census. She would occasionally take her toddler son on home visits. Once Eric, her youngest, started kindergarten, Deb volunteered in his classroom and the library. By 2002 she applied to be a teacher’s aide in the district and has been here ever since.
Her favorite part of working in District #61 is that she always feels appreciated. She’s worked with a lot of different teachers over the years and it feels really good to know that they need and appreciate her efforts. Deb also has a lot of fun with the staff at Mark DeLay and that really helps to get through the day. Working in the schools has given Deb a different and better understanding of how schools operate. She has also been a staff member of the K.I.D.S. Club program since November 2013.
With a busy school day and extended day with K.I.D.S. Club, how does Deb find the time to give back? She works around school holidays and breaks and also does volunteer work on the weekends. Deb has been an active member of the Darien Women’s Club since 2012. She joined because she likes to do volunteer work and this particular club offers so many opportunities for that. She also gets to meet some new friends and do social activities like book club. The Darien Women’s Club meets the first Wednesday of every month at the Darien Park District. Come out and join if you like social events and helping others.
There are countless ways that Deb gives back with this club. She helps with the Art Fest, Darien Fest, and the Little Store at Burgess Square Nursing Home. Most of her time over the last 4 years has been dedicated to co-coordinating the Children’s Clothing Resale. This is a community wide event that is currently being held at Lace School. Over the last 40 years it’s been held at Lace, Eisenhower, Cass Jr. High and now has found its way back to Lace. The Fall Clothing Resale was held on October 14, 2017 at Lace School. Deb used to shop at the resale for her kids many years ago and has enjoyed being on the other side of the program.
The Darien Women’s Club isn’t the only organization that benefits from Deb’s hard work and dedication. She has been volunteering with the DuPage Senior Citizens Council for over 20 years by delivering meals to homebound elderly or disabled people. Through her work in the hospital, Deb would get frustrated by the lack of volunteers for a meals on wheels type program when she would refer patients to that service. She also took her kids on deliveries when they were younger so they could experience different lifestyles and home situations. Deb also provides food items for her church’s PADS program. They provide food and shelter for the homeless once a month.
Deb Uhlar is an all around great person. We are thankful for Deb every day at Mark DeLay. In her spare time (does she have any?) she loves to read, ride her bike, walk the neighborhood, watch Chicago and college sports, travel with her family and spend time in her family cottage in Florence, Wisconsin. She and her husband also love to try out local breweries and know when all of the specials are. Congrats Deb!