Super Mom. As mothers, whether we realize it or not, many of us strive for this title. Some even reach the required levels to obtain it, but Glen Ellynite Barb Ratkowski takes it to a new level. As a 17-year Glen Ellyn resident, Ratkowski is very familiar with the community and family values that define our town.
“It’s not about me, or my husband. It’s about Maddie,” Ratkowski said of her pre-teen daughter.
Maddie Ratkowski is involved in multiple extra-curricular activities including band and figure skating. Mother Barb can be found as a primary parental contact at all of these events.
According to Ratkowski, she always wanted to be helpful.
“I was always the kid waving my hand in class when someone asked for help,” she explained. There really did not seem to be a beginning to her volunteering, it seemed to always be a part of her character.
Most of Ratkowski’s current volunteering is for her daughter. She’s been heavily involved with her pre-school, elementary school, now junior high and the schools’ PTA.
Her daughter practically lives at Center Ice of DuPage, on Poss Street, so Ratkowski’s volunteering is currently focused an estimated 75 percent at the rink. She does a lot of work for the rink’s synchronized skating team, The Precicettes, as well as assists coaches with the rink’s Skating School. She can be seen at any given moment checking in registered students for the school, making sure they’re all set up with everything they need for the first day of those classes. None of the parents for the other synchronized skating team’s members ever seem surprised to see an e-mail from Ratkowski advising them of upcoming events, either.
Her involvement at the ice rink has been exemplified this season by her organizing a social outing for all of the Precicettes teams (there are currently 5 of them) to go to Sunny Acres to celebrate Halloween together. Another example is the teams’ upcoming trip to see the Smucker’s Stars on Ice show in March. Ratkowski sent out the e-mails to keep parents in the loop, did research for ticket pricing, and even helped reserve a bus for transportation. The other Precicettes parents are very grateful to have someone like her handling these things when they aren’t able to help out that much themselves.
At her daughter’s school, Ratkowski had been involved in various different roles over the years. She has volunteered in the classroom, various events at the school, and even led her Girl Scout troupe.
Ratkowski estimates her volunteer hours at 8-10 hours on average. “Sometimes it varies. One week it could be only one hour, and the next it could be 20.”
All of her volunteer efforts are compiled on top of her regular full-time job responsibilities. In fact, she took time out between a day of multiple conference calls to advise of her efforts. She estimated her regular full-time work hours to be between 50 and 60 hours per week, though that varies as well.
When asked why she continues to volunteer to the extent that she does, Ratkowski jokingly said, “because I’m a control freak, that’s why! I honestly just don’t know. I just want to be involved at a high level with Maddie’s life. I like to be involved.”
She continued to say that she takes great pleasure in the fact that Maddie wants her to be at functions with her peers. Many junior high school-aged children shy away from their parents being at social or extra-curricular events, oftentimes out of embarrassment. So Ratkowski’s pleasure in Maddie’s willingness for her presence is enviable by many junior high school parents.