Updated Oct. 23, 2012 – 4:45 p.m.

Janet Paulin decided to remove her wrist splint for the first time last week (She’s been recuperating after a fall over the summer that injured her arm). After all, she was about to shake hands with a member of the U.S. Congress.

Paulin was honored Oct. 18 by Rep. Dan Lipinski at the Park Palace Banquet Hall in Countryside as one of the 3rd District’s 2012 Senior of the Year recipients. Seventeen seniors from the area were given the awards by Lipinski, who thanked them for “actively seeking to make their communities better places to live and work.”

Paulin was joined by Mayor Anthony Calderone and Community Center Director Karen Dylewski at the banquet. Paulin, who has lived in Forest Park for more than 40 years, said she and husband Ray came to the area temporarily so he could be trained by the corporate arm of the Sears Corporation. Ray Paulin currently serves on the Zoning Board of Appeals.

“Some people take longer to train than others,” she joked.

Originally from Massachusetts, Paulin raised four children in Forest Park. She now has a grandson attending Garfield School – “the same school his mother attended,” said Paulin, who attended the Modern School of Fashion Design in Boston. Sewing has always been her passion. As a stay-at-home mother, she has always been an avid school, PTA and scouting volunteer. Paulin has served on the Youth Commission and Community Education Board.

But her avocation over the years has been creating custom bridesmaid and bridal wear for friends and clients. She also creates and sells “infinity scarves” at the Farmers Market.

Paulin has used her sewing machine and seamstress skills to volunteer. She repairs clothes for seniors at the Altenheim, and she brings her machine to the Community Center and repairs clothing.

She was vital in the Kiwanis Key Club’s first “Cinderella Project” this year, an event that provided gowns, and hair and makeup services to low-income girls for prom at Proviso Math and Science Academy. The tulle and satin flew as Paulin and fellow-seamstress Mary Hogan measured the girls and then repurposed the gowns – creating Cinderella magic.

Dylewski said Paulin has spent her life in Forest Park helping seniors and children. “She volunteered at River Edge Hospital in the children’s ward, and she worked with cadets in the Civil Air Patrol,” Dylewski said.

“She runs her life just taking care of people,” said Dylewski. “Her energy and enthusiasm are unbelievable. If anyone deserves this award, it is Janet Paulin.”

Jean Lotus loves community journalism. She covers news, features, two school boards, village council, crime, park district and writes obits for Forest Park Review. She also covers the police beat for...