Rapport honored with Evergreen Award, by Ann Gonyea

If there is one thing Karlyn Rapport has proven over the course of her work and volunteer life in Marquette County, it’s that one person can make a difference.
Rapport was named the recipient of the 2007 Evergreen Award of Marquette County at the Lake Superior Community Partnership Annual Dinner on March 23. Characterized as a “local and regional catalyst for change,” Rapport was nominated by Kathleen L. Davis and Mary-Jane Schmidt.
“Karlyn Rapport is an outstanding volunteer and a true community treasure deserving of the honor of the Evergreen Award,” Davis and Schmidt wrote in their nomination.
The Evergreen Award is organized by the Zonta Club of Marquette Area. The award is open to men and women of Marquette County who are inspirational in their roles as mentors of women and girls. The selection committee evaluated nominees based on how they demonstrated excellence, creativity and initiative in their professions or as volunteers.
“I’m humbled,” Rapport said when she received the award.
She said it is wonderful to live and work in a community so committed to working toward better futures for everyone.
“Marquette County is a unique community,” she said. “Whatever is needed is recognized, and people are willing to work together to fill that need. I’m humbled because this award doesn’t reflect anything I’ve done solo.”
Rapport is a member of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) whose mission “promotes equality for all women and girls, lifelong education and positive societal change.”
Rapport is the Marquette AAUW Public Policy chairwoman and serves on the AAUW program committee. She heads the “Get Out The Vote” effort, which focuses on the importance of voting, especially for women. She also has served as the group’s president.
She counts her colleagues at AAUW among the major influences in her life.
“The interests and policy goals of the American Association of University Women were in line with mine,” she said.
By working with people who had common interests, Rapport said she has found mentors and projects that have enriched her life and helped the community.
Her work with AAUW helped found the Harbor House, which is the domestic violence shelter in Marquette County.
“In AAUW she led a task-force on this issue and took it to the national organization in 1979,” Davis and Schmidt noted. “This was before domestic violence was a recognized problem.”
AAUW has honored Rapport twice in its “Agents of Change” designation, which is awarded to three Michigan women each year. Through the designation, money in her name was sent to a fund supporting graduate education and community grants for women and girls.
When speaking about some of the mentors in her life, Rapport mentions people like Geraldine DeFant and Virginia Selin, people who made a tremendous difference in the community. She also speaks of her daughter Adele Rapport.
“My daughter was a real role model for me,” Rapport said. “At thirteen she was taking a role in politics, and it encouraged me to go in that direction.”
In 2005, Rapport was recognized in Zonta’s Rose Day for “advancing the legal, political, economic, educational, health and professional status of women.”
She also was among the “150 Women of Influence” invited to lunch with the governor for the Michigan sesquicentennial.
Rapport is a past president and board member of the Marquette-Alger Planned Parenthood. She received the Martha Hatch Award in 2003 from Planned Parenthood of Northern Michigan for her concern for the health and status of women and girls. She also served as a mentor to VOX, a Northern Michigan University group supporting Planned Parenthood.
Rapport cofounded the Marquette Cooperative Nursery at a time when finding adequate daycare was difficult for working women. She was a Girl Scout leader when her daughters were young, and she has mentored women seeking political office.
Professionally, Rapport worked as a speech pathologist. She worked for ten years in Marquette Area Schools, and twenty-eight years at Marquette General Hospital. She is married to Jim Rapport. The couple has three grown children: Adele, an attorney, Lisa, a neuropsychologist, and Joel, a rabbi.
Her work in Marquette County has proven very satisfying, Rapport said.
“It makes my head work very well,” she said. “I’m seventy-two and I feel energized when I work with others. I go from project to project and never look back.”
Because of this philosophy toward community work, Rapport said she was rather overwhelmed when she heard the list of community projects read when the award was made.
While she believes in places like Marquette County, people naturally step up to the plate to make the community a better place to live, she also knows it is a challenge for families today more than ever; just making ends meet can take up most hours of the day.
“I hope the Evergreen Award will encourage the next generation to get involved in their communities and see that giving back to the community is worth it,” she said.
The Evergreen Award program also includes a scholarship to a local life-long learner pursuing an educational program. This award is made in the spring. Scholarship applications are available by contacting the Marquette Community Foundation.
Evergreen Award and Scholarship sponsors include Zonta Club of Marquette Area, Interiors by Design, the Landmark Inn, Hetrick & Associates Insurance Agency, Peninsula Medical Center, Range Bank, Public Service Garage and Hotchandani Laser & Vein Center and the Marquette Monthly. For more information on the Evergreen Award and Scholarship program, visit www.zontamqt.org or call Pam Stewart at 228-7500 or e-mail pcs@hetrickins.com
—Ann Gonyea
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