This is the fourth of seven profiles of the 2020 honorees of the Outstanding Women of Clinton County Class of 2020. More information on the event, including how to obtain tickets, will appear at the end of each profile.
More than 20 years ago, Lorry Swindler and her friend Arla Faye Carnahan began to notice an unhealthy trend in Wilmington and Clinton County: too many people were spending Thanksgiving Day alone and without food, rather than celebrating the traditional holiday with family and friends.
They began to ask why the community didn’t have a dinner to benefit lonely and needy families. With help from Tari Mabry, countless volunteers and the local manager of Wendy’s restaurant, the group hatched a plan to cook and serve lots of Thanksgiving dinners.
At the first dinner, they delivered food to 250 people. The event proved popular for volunteers and recipients alike.
Last year, with generous donations and with help from the staff and managers at Kroger and Wendy’s, the group cooked and served food for more than 2,000 families. Kroger cooks turkeys and pies, and Wendy’s donates its restaurant for additional cooking space and containers for food deliveries.
With the help of more than 150 people in 2019, the project has blossomed as volunteers drive routes to deliver food and fellowship to families in need.
Raised in Indiana, Swindler and her twin sister were adopted by a Presbyterian minister and his wife. From them she learned compassion, decency, modesty and good citizenship, values that she has carried with her into adulthood.
She arrive in Wilmington in 1975, joining a family that has deep roots in the community. Swindler taught special education and second grade classes for 30 years in the Wilmington City Schools.
She taught for several summers in a program for autism, and then became a specialist for Hopewell Education System for eight years, where she gave autism workshops and helped classroom teachers work with struggling students. She also taught GED classes and at the end of her career privately tutored autistic children.
Looking for a new challenge following her retirement, Swindler become a court-appointed special advocate (CASA) volunteer working with the Clinton County Juvenile Court.
Typically, she works on two or three cases at a time, helping abused, neglected or dependent children by doing interviews with the children, parents, teachers, extended family and medical professionals. She helps address concerns about child health and safety, and writes depositions for the judge recommending plans for children in the program.
A member of the Wilmington United Methodist Church, Swindler has served as an instructor in Sunday school and Vacation Bible School and helped with Lenten lunches, as a church trustee, and on numerous governing committees.
Swindler has also served as a Girl Scout leader, as vice president and president of Clinton County Retired Teachers Association, and also president of the Wednesday Book Club.
She was treasurer of Beta Sigma Phi, a service sorority. She serves on a support committee for Clinton County Youth Council, and is the current president of Chapter F, PEO (Philanthropic Education Organization.)
Swindler is a devoted mother of four children and grandmother of 12, and holds degrees from The Ohio State University and Wright State University.
Tickets for the 2020 Outstanding Women of Clinton County luncheon are $25 (cash or check accepted, payable to “OWCC”). Reservations can be made at the Wilmington News Journal, 1547 Rombach Ave., Wilmington, OH 45177. The News Journal’s office hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
If you have any questions, please call 937-382-2574. Reservations will be accepted through Monday, March 2.
The event is sponsored by the Wilmington News Journal, with generous support from First State Bank, Peoples Bank, Wilmington Savings Bank, and Wilmington College.