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Everyday Heroes

Charlotte Droogan: Blessings in life spurs her to action to help others

Charlotte Droogan on Thursday, Aug. 4, 2016, in Joliet, Ill.
Charlotte Droogan on Thursday, Aug. 4, 2016, in Joliet, Ill.

Those who know Charlotte Droogan say she has a mission to change her community and the world.

Droogan, a retired Bolingbrook teacher, has spent the last 14 years as a lay community minister at the Universalist Unitarian Church of Joliet – a role in which she leads the congregation to action.

“My job has been to take the church outside of the four walls of the church building,” Droogan said. “We have done AIDS support groups in the 1990s, health outreach, night ministry bus in Chicago, stand for marriage equality, spoke at the capital in Springfield, worked with Warehouse Workers for Justice – all networking, political action and witness to the community.”

Friend and fellow church member Jean Owen met Droogan in 1990 when she thought she would slip into the church just to observe, but was stopped by Droogan. The two have been friends ever since. She said her friend has given up so much of her personal time to better the lives of others, and continues to be a good example of a citizen.

“She gives so much of herself to better our world,” Owen said. “We were having dinner one night and she had to get up and leave to go turn in petitions. She is always working on something. I could never give up that much of my free time.”

UUCJ Board President Linda Kremsner said Droogan’s service has allowed the church to continue to function at a level that promotes growth in the community and internally help the congregation grow and function. Droogan also takes lay minister classes to further her lay community service for issues that come up with the church, Kremsner added.

“Charlotte is working with other lay community people to take service and spirituality in the community and congregation. I’m pretty excited she’s in the campaign to make this a certified spot in our congregation,” Kremsner said.

Droogan said she volunteers and has a drive for social justice due to her missionary background – and the fact that she has been blessed with what she has been given.

“Everybody has a moral obligation to spend some of their time to help others. Unless all are treated fairly, none are treated fairly. Having more than everyone isn’t always as great as it’s cracked up to be,” Droogan said.

Droogan said this year the church decided to perform homeless outreach on the east side of Joliet.

They made mattresses out of plastic bags to place under sleeping bags to keep dry in rain and snow. They also collected socks, which she felt was important for those on the street so they can keep their feet dry.

“What drives me is that it is pretty hard to be happy when other people are so unhappy. I want to pay it forward. With the recession in past years, many peers found out what it was like to wear the other shoe,” Droogan said.

When Droogan does take time for herself, she likes to dance, roller-skate and has a “love affair” with the treadmill at the health club.

“Charlotte loves life and she’s always participating. She loves to dance, so we go dancing together, but I don’t go roller-skating with her,” Owen said.

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