Donna Zimmerman has worked at the UI for 18 years. Starting out with the Purchasing Division and then transferring to the Survey Research Lab, Zimmerman eventually left the university to start her family. Returning in 1996, she now enjoys her job as a staff clerk for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. When not busy with the wealth of responsibilities her position entails, Zimmerman keeps active with her many hobbies and an enthusiastic zeal for helping others.
Tell me about your job.
I am the “bill payer” for LAS. I process all purchases, travel reimbursements and payroll. I am one of the human resource contacts for the college. I assist in space issues and remodeling projects. I assign security codes and maintain key inventory. I work with Facilities and Services for building maintenance and new projects. I am also the phone coordinator for land lines and cellular service.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
Lincoln Hall’s remodeling postponement has created many issues for LAS, the most challenging being lack of space. Repairs are not made as readily, since Lincoln Hall has been slated to be remodeled several times. We’re kind of in limbo, yet we still continue to service a large volume of students, and faculty and staff members.
What do you like best about your job?
The best part of my job is working with a variety of people and performing a large variety of tasks that make no two days the same. I have been blessed because all of the people I work with are good friends as well as co-workers.
How did you obtain the nickname Radar O’Reilly?
I acquired this name when I assisted the LAS Bridge Program. When they had requests for the program that exceeded their budget, I would become creative like Radar (from the TV series, “M*A*S*H”). I’d wheel and deal until I was able to come up with whatever was needed at a price we could afford.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I love volleyball. Recently some students, and faculty and staff members restarted a program to play on Friday nights. Also, some co-workers and I share hobbies. Someone is currently teaching me how to work with beads and create jewelry. I am teaching this person how to crochet. I’m a member of a Wesley Covenant Group through the First United Methodist Church of Champaign. I like attending Illini games (especially basketball); watching old movies; going to the theater; exercising including water aerobics, Pilates and yoga; baking; and attending concerts. I recently went to performances by the Dave Matthews Band and Journey. I also enjoy snow skiing, although injuries have probably ended that venture.
What are your holiday plans?
My youngest daughter and I will be spending the holidays in Florida with my two brothers. Since my nephew is a chef, the family usually challenges us to try something new. One year it was labeled “mystery meat” and turned out to be shark!
Tell me about your volunteer work.
I also am a wish granter for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. As a wish granter, you meet with a child’s family and find out what they would like to do. There are four types of wishes: “I want to be…”; “I want to have…” ;“I want to go…”; and “I want to meet… .” I am currently working on a room makeover for a local girl. Thanks to the help of many local vendors, the room will be ready by Christmas.
Children are eligible for the Make-A-Wish program once a medical professional refers them to the foundation. They must be between the ages of 2 1/2 and 18. A common misconception is that the child must have a terminal illness for their wish to be granted. While this is sometimes the case, Make-A-Wish Foundation also fulfills wishes for children who are battling life-threatening illnesses. Their dream is not intended as a death wish. Rather it is an opportunity for renewal, hope and spirit – a chance to enjoy childhood again.
There are many children in the area who are currently waiting for their wish to be granted because there are too few volunteers. I would like to challenge others to become a part of this foundation in whatever way they feel they can contribute.