LUM Volunteer of the Month – Patti O’Callaghan

LUM Volunteer of the Month – May 2023

Patti O’Callaghan is the May LUM Volunteer of the Month.

Patti is originally from Brooklyn, New York and has lived in West Lafayette with her husband, Mark Diekman, since 1979. She earned a bachelor’s degree from New York University, NY and a Master’s in Reproductive Physiology from Colorado State University. Mark is a retired Purdue faculty member in Animal Science.

Patti is being honored this month for her volunteer work with the LUM Social Justice Team and as a LUM Legislative Liaison. She was selected for the LUM Volunteer of the Month for her exceptional dedication, tirelessness, passion, caring, and hard work. She has been engaged with LUM since arriving in West Lafayette. In addition to the LUM Social Justice Team and legislative work, Patti also regularly volunteers with the Westside Food Pantry and Tax Assistance Program, provides meals at the Emergency Shelter, and is the LUM liaison to Bread for the World. She served on the LUM staff as the Director of Social Justice for 11 years.

Patti shared that,

I love that LUM addresses immediate needs (emergency financial assistance, shelter, food, after school and summer children’s programs, tax assistance) and also works to make systemic change (our “upstream work”), so that these services might not be as needed. Getting legislators to do good things for poor families and children is so important! Establishing and increasing the state Earned Income Tax Credit put more money in the hands of folks who need it, for example.

Patti has been very active in the community. She is a strong advocate and champion for families, children, and mothers who are experiencing poverty, abuse and mental illness. She is also very passionate about recycling. Patti shared that,

My two favorite quotes are as ‘Service is the rent we pay for being‘ (Marion Wright Edelman, CDF) and ‘To whom much is given, much is expected‘ (Luke 12:48). I am so blessed, and it is important to me to give back.

Patti has served in several professional and public service roles, including eight years on the West Lafayette City Council, and eight years on the West Lafayette Community School Corporation Board. Her work has a been recognized with several prestigious awards and honors, including the Distinguished Hoosier Award from Governor Daniels and the Sagamore of the Wabash from Governor O’Bannon.

Patti and Mark have two sons, Casey and Brian Diekman. Casey is married with two daughters; and Brian is married with three sons. In her free time, Patti loves hanging out with her five grandkids! She also enjoys reading, walking/running (slowly), swimming, QiGong, lifting weights, book group, pickleball, friends, and volunteering. Patti also has a fun side. She is known for celebrating St. Patrick’s Day for a full month by wearing green every day, treating her fellow volunteers to traditional Irish food and music, and doing a lively Irish jig when the occasion arises.

Join us in congratulating Patti O’Callaghan for being selected the LUM Volunteer of the Month for May 2023. If you would like to volunteer with LUM, check out the LUM website or call or email the LUM volunteer coordinator, Terri Anderson (volunteer@LUMserve.org | 765-423-2691)

Professional activities

  • Indiana Coalition for Human Services, Education Chair, President
  • State Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights
  • West Lafayette City Council, President in 2001, 2004 and 2005 (8 yrs)
  • Indiana Association of Cities and Towns, Legislative Committee (7 yr)
  • Gubernatorial appointee to Water Pollution Control Board (3 yrs)
  • Indiana Supreme Court Advisory Commission on GAL/CASA (10 yrs)
  • Tippecanoe County Child Protection Team (1993 – 1998)
  • West Lafayette Community School Corporation Board of School    Trustees, secretary, vice-president, president (1988 – 1996)

Professional memberships

  • Association of Women in Science
  • Indiana School Boards Association (1988 – 1996)
  • League of Women Voters
  • National CASA Association
  • Prevent Child Abuse, Indiana

Community activities

  • Lafayette Urban Ministry
    • Social Justice Team – member
    • Legislative Liaison
    • Tax Assistance Program – tax preparer, quality check, data entry
    • Westside Food Pantry – volunteer, data entry
    • Emergency Shelter – meal provider
  • CASA for Kids Fund, Founding Member, Past President
  • Children’s Advocacy Center Board, Founding Member, Chair
  • Community Issues Study Committee (8 years)
  • Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce Third House
  • Mentor Mothers Advisory Board (5 Years)
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI-WCI) Board Member
  • New Chauncey Neighborhood Association
  • Tippecanoe Child Abuse Prevention Council, Founding Member
  • St. Andrew Church, Education, Community Ministries, Chair
  • Vision 2020 Implementation Steering Committee
  • West Lafayette High School Girls Soccer Coach (10 years)
  • YWCA Board of Directors, Director of Advocacy (2001-07)

Awards and honors

  • 2023 LUM Volunteer of the Month – May
  • 2007 Distinguished Hoosier Award – Governor Daniels
  • 2005 Local Public Health Leader – Indiana Public Health Association
  • 2000 Sagamore of the Wabash – Governor O’Bannon
  • 1998 Citizen of the Year – Association of Social Workers Region 4
  • 1996 Outstanding Woman in Government and Politics
  • 1995 National CASA Director of the Year
  • 1992 Indiana Child Advocate of the Year

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