Meet July “Do the Right Thing” Winner: JoAnn Schoate


CLEVELAND, Tenn. (WDEF) — Being a parent isn’t for the fainthearted.

Try being a grandparent to dozens of children not even related to you for nearly 20 years, all while making a positive impact.

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That’s what one Tennessee Valley woman is doing, in sickness and in health.

JoAnn Schoate has been volunteering as a foster grandparent for about 18 years.

For the last three, she’s been helping at the East Cleveland Early Childhood Development Center – reading to the kids, rocking them, and just loving on them.

“I love the babies,” Schoate said. “I’m sorry. And they love me, I hope. They meet me in the hallway, pointing and, you know, just wanting me to get them. I just love being here.”

Being a foster grandparent is a full time job for Schoate – one she doesn’t take lightly.

She volunteers five hours a day, five days a week.

And when she finishes her shift, she already can’t wait to see the children the next morning.

“I wouldn’t stop doing this as long as I could, because it gives me a purpose,” Schoate said. “It gives me friends, and I get to love the children. And I want to help.”

Suzan Logsdon has known Schoate for more than 40 years, and says health issues – from breast cancer, to knee surgeries – couldn’t even keep Schoate away from the kids.

“After each one those, I always thought she’d return to work too soon, but she said, ‘My babies need me.’ And she missed them,” Logsdon said. “So she would go to work actually when she was a little bit puny from her surgery, but she said, ‘Well, I can sit and rock the babies. She said that’s all I need to do right now.'”

Schoate’s dedication is just one of many reasons why Logsdon nominated her for the award.

“She’s so giving and loving, and she’s adored by her family, by all of us friends,” Logsdon said. “She’s adored by these children, as you can see. She’s just a very special person, and a true substitute grandmother for some of these children who may not have a grandparent.”

Now it’s time for Schoate to treat herself.

She says she plans to use this $500 to go to Gatlinburg.

“I’m going to spend the night. I’m going to eat at some of them good restaurants. I’m going to shop at some of those outlets. I’m going to have fun,” Schoate said.

But she’ll surely be thinking about these kids, while she’s gone.

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You can watch Emily Cassulo weeknights on News 12 Now starting at 5:30. Emily also does stories on different tech products and issues for Tech Byte, which airs Mondays on News 12 Now. She joined the WDEF news team in September 2016 from News 12’s sister station in Columbus, Mississippi, where she worked as an anchor, producer and reporter. Emily is no stranger to the Volunteer State. Before moving to Mississippi, she worked at WBBJ-TV, covering crime and severe weather throughout West Tennessee. She loves living in Chattanooga, and exploring what the Scenic City has to offer. Emily is a Florida native, graduating from the University of Central Florida with a degree in broadcast journalism and minor in political science. While in college, Emily worked part-time as a reporter/web producer at News/Talk 96.5 WDBO. She broke her first news story there, which made national headlines, and covered the 2010 Central Florida congressional elections and the high-profile Casey Anthony trial. When she’s not busy reporting, Emily enjoys shopping, reading, playing the piano, and spending time with family and friends. Feel free to e-mail her at if you have any story ideas or just want to say ‘Hi.’