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The Award-Winning Patty Spanjer

Teresa Pitman
Guelph ON Canada
From: LEAVEN, Vol. 41 No. 6, December 2005-January 2006, p. 131.

Each year the American Institute for Public Service seeks out individuals who are providing significant public service in their communities to receive one of the Jefferson Awards. These Awards have been called "the Nobel Prize for Public Service" and in 2005 one of the winners in the "Unsung Heroes" category was a familiar name -- long-time La Leche League Leader (and Leaven Contributing Editor) Patty Spanjer, of Dalton, Georgia, USA, who was recognized for nearly three decades of helping breastfeeding mothers.

Patty's in impressive company -- some past national winners of the Jefferson Awards include Walter Cronkite, Oprah Winfrey, and Bill and Melinda Gates. (And I'll bet Patty could teach all of them a thing or two about breastfeeding.)

Publicity about the Awards noted the countless hours Patty spends responding to phone calls from mothers, leading meetings, speaking to prenatal classes, and making visits to mothers in hospitals and in their homes. Those who know her would add that her warm, welcoming approach and that gentle Southern accent are guaranteed to help mothers feel comfortable with her, confident that they will be treated with respect. Her knowledge of breastfeeding issues and techniques that she can share with mothers to help them manage any problems is outstanding and enables her to help women in a wide variety of situations.

Patty not only works directly with breastfeeding mothers and babies, but has provided support to other Leaders through the various LLLI responsibilities she has taken on over the years.

While Patty is committed to LLLI and supporting breastfeeding mothers, she's equally committed to her family -- her husband, pediatrician Dr. Dick Spanjer, and her five children. Patty is currently homeschooling her two youngest sons, so life continues to be pretty busy in the Spanjer household!

Leaders make a real difference in the lives of the families they work with. In Patty's long career as a La Leche League Leader, she has touched the lives and positively influenced thousands of people. Congratulations, Patty, on this much-deserved award. We are so proud of you!

Teresa Pitman has been a Leader for 26 years, and is the single mother of four children: Matthew (1977), Lisa (1978), Dan (1981) and Jeremy (1984), and grandmother to Sebastian and Callista. Teresa also serves as the Executive Director of LLL Canada. Teresa, a writer and communications/public relations professional, has authored or co-authored 10 published books, including Dr. Jack Newman's Guide to Breastfeeding (published in the US as The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers).

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