MotionWorks Physical Therapy Unsung Hometown Hero: Tammi Johnson
Sometimes in life, one stumbles upon the precise endeavor to which we were destined to devote our time. For Tammi Johnson of Neenah, it was in the middle of hosting a girls’ weekend for girlfriends from Minnetonka, Minnesota, when she first learned about a women’s organization called 100+ Who Care. Just 3 short years later, our latest MotionWorks Unsung Hometown Hero is handing local charities a ribbon full of checks that total over $10,000 from a group of local professional women called Power of 100+ Fox Cities.
Tammi’s story begins in Ellsworth, a small town in western Wisconsin, where she was one of five kids growing up on a small beef farm. Their family farm also included one pig a year, lots of cats and dogs, and 3 to 4 horses that she grew up riding. She learned how to work by helping the neighbors on the farm milking cows and baling hay, for which she received a small calf as payment to raise and then sell at the end of the year. In high school, she took advantage of every art class she could and played basketball and softball at Ellsworth High School.
While majoring in sociology and psychology at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, Tammi began working for a small psychiatric hospital in the area. It didn’t take her very long to progress from an entry-level position as a patient care worker, then to admissions director, then to community relations and marketing, then assistant director, and then finally, to marketing director. Eventually, Tammi took a position in Indianapolis as the marketing director in a large hospital system. It was there that Tammi met her husband Jim, with whom she just celebrated 28 years of marriage.
After staying home with her two young children, her son Luke and her daughter Hannah, she opened a small painting and pottery studio in Fishers, Indiana called Tall Pine Pottery. Here she led art camps for local students all summer long until her husband’s job relocated her and her family to Wisconsin 12 years ago. Her love of art continues to this day as she enjoys painting in her spare time at home. She also was able to continue her marketing career from home with some traveling, selling printed marketing materials to bed and breakfast businesses throughout the country.
Tammi has always harbored a love of people and animals and was excited to first hear about the global organization called 100+ Who Care (local groups around the country are known by variations of this name). Her girlfriends from Minnesota told her about the women’s group located in the Cities, and Tammi immediately knew that this would be something she would love to do here. She found one such women’s group in Wisconsin down in Madison, so she attended 3 consecutive meetings there to see how the program worked. “I would sit in the room and my skin would just tingle, I was so excited to be a part of this,” Tammi says. Soon the funding facilitator, known as the Power of 100+ Fox Cities, came to fruition.
Tammi worked to form a committee to organize and run the group, inviting local professional women to become members called Impact Partners to join with a commitment to donate $100 to the charities chosen by the group at each quarterly meeting and social. “Kit” members who are young professionals age 30 and younger can also join by donating $50 quarterly to the chosen charities. The very first meeting was held at the Radisson Paper Valley Hotel in October of 2017 with just 21 attendees. Today the Power of 100+ Fox Cities boasts a membership of 106. The organization maintains a website and Facebook page where those interested in joining can learn more about the organization and the 32 local charities that have benefited so far from the over $130,000 donated by group members so far.
Members of the group enjoy learning about all of the different charities operating in our area by listening to 3 presentations from different charity representatives at each meeting. After the 5-minute presentations, the group votes on which charity will receive the Impact Award for that quarter. Members are impressed by the innovative programs impacting both people and animals in this area. “I feel blessed that I’ve crossed paths with these people, it tugs at my heartstrings and I hope to help them all,” Tammi explains. “It’s exciting to hand over checks in a box with a ribbon 4 times per year, with over $10,000 in donations to each chosen charity.” Many Impact Partners choose to donate to other charities as well, even if the charity was not selected by the majority of the group to receive the large quarterly donation. Better yet, a program from the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation, affiliated with Best Buy, reached out to the group to offer a match of 50% of what is donated to each Impact Partner, resulting in $5,000 of additional funding to the chosen charities.
Sometimes other opportunities arise for Impact Partners to serve others as well, such as when a representative from the Old Glory Honor Flights informed Tammi about a local World War II veteran who was turning 100. Members of the group sent birthday cards to celebrate, and the gentleman passed away one month later.
Tammi reflects on the blessing of having met and continuing to remain friends with people everywhere she and her family have lived. Even so, she feels most at home among the friendly people and with the small-town feeling here in the Fox Cities. Tammi also enjoys spending time each day with her 3 cocker spaniels, Oreo, Zoe, and Daisy Mae now that her children are grown and leaving the nest. “It’s been a really rewarding life,” Tammi muses. “To make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver, one is gold.”
MotionWorks Physical Therapy thanks Michelle Schneider of Patooties Photography of Neenah for the fantastic photos generously provided for the MotionWorks Unsung Hometown Hero series.