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Evanston Women Among Those Honored by Northwestern

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March 26, 2008 | by Judy Moore
EVANSTON, Ill. --- Evanston residents Joan Hickman and Kim Robinson have been honored by Northwestern University for their involvement in the community and the adversity they have overcome.

They were among three women recognized at the Northwestern Theatre and Interpretation Center and Women's Center "Women of Spunk" award reception and ceremony that took place at the University's Ethel M. Barber Theater. The event celebrated local women who have overcome adversity in their personal lives and made a difference in the community.

By choosing women who represented the strength of the human spirit, "Women of Spunk" also paid honor to renowned folklorist, anthropologist and novelist Zora Neale-Hurston, author of "Their Eyes Were Watching God." The idea was inspired by the Theatre and Interpretation Center's recent stage production of "Spunk," George C. Wolfe's adaptation of three tales by Hurston about the resilience of the human spirit. The main female characters in this play with music persevere by their individual wit, willpower, tenacity and love.

Joan Hickman is chairman of the Evanston Commission on Aging and vice president for board development of United Way's Evanston Chapter. She also serves on other boards. Hickman was born in Evanston and has lived here most of her life, where she has faced racial discrimination and learned the art of peaceful protest. Hickman's efforts ranged from "sits ins" at restaurants that wouldn't serve African Americans to having to sit in the balconies of the Valencia and Varsity theaters in downtown Evanston, both now closed.

Now retired, Hickman is still a great contributor to the Evanston community. Though she has many accomplishments, one personal mission gives her the most pleasure: getting "a reduced rate for the Evanston Vehicle Sticker, for seniors who meet a means test."

Kim Robinson became an Evanston resident in 1996 as a 26-year-old single mother of a 2-year-old daughter. She moved to Evanston from a dangerous part of Chicago in hopes of a better life. Two years earlier, her father had died of cancer. Robinson's sisters had left their children, leaving Robinson and her mother to care for them.

Robinson enrolled in Oakton Community College and became involved with the Child Care Network of Evanston, Evanston's link to child care resources. She eventually opened her own home daycare service, which is a "socio-economically and ethnically diverse environment" for children aged 3 months to 2 1/2 years. Robinson soon will transfer her Oakton credits to another school where she plans to earn a master's degree in early childhood education.

Robinson's involvement in the community has garnered her many accomplishments. In 2006, she and her mother (Willa Robinson) were awarded the Early Childhood Award by the Child Care Network of Evanston. The award honors individuals who have demonstrated outstanding personal commitment to early childhood education in Evanston.

Evanston's Hickman and Robinson and Sylvia Delman of Highland Park, each received a certificate from Northwestern University, four complimentary tickets to "Spunk," a copy of Hurston's book "Their Eyes Were Watching God," and a $50 gift certificate from Women and Children First Bookstore.
Topics: Neighborhood