In a normal year, the Lowell Women’s Club would hold a May celebration in which members would recognize graduating students, enjoy a special luncheon and name a Woman of the Year.
Since 2020 has been anything but a normal year, the May celebration didn’t happen as planned. However, that didn’t stop members of the 92-year old service organization from finding a way to fete one woman for her commitment and service to the club and community.
Lori Ingraham, a retired early childhood educator, was named Woman of the Year and honored in a surprise ceremony last week at the First Congregational United Church of Christ in Lowell. The honoree was asked to come to the church, where she is a member, to discuss some landscaping.
Unbeknownst to her, members of the Lowell Women’s Club had arrived earlier and were waiting in the parking lot. As Ingraham arrived, horns honked and members cheered. The club then held a short presentation outside and provided a chance for members to offer drive-by congratulations to Ingraham.
Longtime Educator, Active Volunteer
Originally from the Michigan city of Stockbridge, Ingraham came to Lowell in 1975 when she began working as an early childhood educator within Lowell Area Schools. During the next 35 years, she taught preschool, kindergarten and first grade. She also helped develop and implement a preschool special education program.
“I joined the Lowell Women’s Club in 2010 when I retired from teaching, [and] I have never regretted that decision,” Ingraham says.
As a member, she has served as president twice, mentored several student members, worked on revisions to club documents including the bylaws and created crafts to be sold at the club’s Christmas Through Lowell booth. However, it isn’t just the Lowell Women’s Club that has benefited from Ingraham’s commitment to service.
“Volunteer could be Lori’s middle name,” Lowell Women’s Club treasurer Jackie Tousley said as she presented the award to Ingraham. She noted that Ingraham has helped out over the years with the Kent County Youth Fair, LowellArts, Lowell’s Open Table and the Relay for Life. She is an active member of the First Congregational United Church of Christ, serving in many ministries there.
In the midst of her many activities, Ingraham and her husband Bill raised two sons. She also found time to create a home décor company in the early 1980s with a friend. Called Country to Go, the company made custom-designed pieces that were sold at home parties. It was such a popular endeavor that it was featured in the magazine Country Living.
While life has taken her in many different directions, Ingraham says she is honored to be part of the Lowell Women’s Club. “I love working with this group of strong, caring women who make a difference in Lowell,” she says.