Joanne Harmelin ‘62 attended West Catholic upon her graduation from Most Blessed Sacrament where she attended first through eighth grade. Joanne arrived at West Catholic with numerous family members having already attended, including her mother and father. Joanne’s fondest memory of the school is her time with Senior English Teacher Sister Anna Josephine.
“Sister Anna Josephine taught me the importance of discipline,” says Harmelin. “She was passionate about what she taught, and those traits have served me well in business.”
Following a successful career at numerous advertising agencies, Joanne founded Harmelin Media in 1982. What began as a company with three employees has since grown to almost 250. While the company has been recognized with numerous awards and honors, “I’m most proud of the fact that I started the company without borrowing a dime and have maintained a culture that is both client and employee focused.”
Joanne was introduced to a program called the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) from a nonprofit she was involved in. The program is offered through the state of Pennsylvania and allows businesses and individuals to redirect what they currently pay in PA state taxes directly to schools like West Catholic, which in turn must use the donation to award tuition assistance.
Harmelin was initially skeptical of the program as it almost seemed too good to be true. After participating, she saw the impact it had. According to School President Paul Colistra, support through EITC makes an incredible impact at the school.
“Unfortunately for families in our community, we are surrounded by some of the most underperforming high schools in the state,” says Colistra. “Because of EITC supporters like Joanne, we can offer students financial assistance that makes a quality Catholic education a reality.”
“When I attended West Catholic there was no tuition,” Harmelin recalls. “My family would have struggled to send me, my sister and my brother if there had been a tuition charged. My participation in the EITC program helps me repay the school for the education it provided to me and my siblings, and hopefully my example will inspire future graduates to give back to the school and pay it forward.”
See the full story and others like it in the Spring 2019 Alumni Magazine, West Notes.