Tell me about growing up. I know a lot of people in our community who remember their childhood as being the worst time in their lives. They couldn’t wait to get out. That wasn’t the case for me. I was born in Charleston, SC to good parents. They were a team and worked hard for us kids! They were friends! I wanted that for myself when I got married. I’ve always been strong minded and determined. My parents always encouraged that attitude. I’m grateful for them and their values. My husband and me worked hard to pass those values on to our daughter. She’s 26, studying for her Masters in Social Work at UMKC and working part time at Operation Breakthrough - they’re just across the road from us here at Reconciliation Services.
What brought you to RS? Curiosity! I walk several blocks a day for exercise. I had an aneurism several years ago and it left me paralyzed on my left side. Dr’s told me I wouldn’t walk again, but I proved them wrong. It’s taken physical therapy and me doing exercises every day, but now I walk well with a stick. My walking route took me past the RS Café. The buzz around the building caught my attention. There were always people going in and out. I was looking for volunteer work, so I went in to to see what was going on. That was early 2015. I’ve volunteered here several days a week ever since.
Tell me about your work at RS. I love people, always have. I think it’s a gift! I get a buzz out of connecting to people and seeing their faces brighten up! That’s mostly what I do here. Everyone needs encouragement, a friendly ear and someone to talk to. We see every walk of life: people who’ve fallen on desperate times, those with mental illness or, with disabilities like me. Some have addictions, those who’ve suffered awful traumas, young ones who need a break and many more. As far as I’m concerned, everyone has something good in them, something worthwhile to offer the world and everyone has a story. I like to find out what people need, get them a coffee, sit down and listen to them, give advice where I can or help them get connected to the right person at RS. It’s busy! The word’s gotten out that the RS Cafe is open 5 days a week and that people can get work here through the connection RS has with Resolve Staffing.
I love being a part of RS 'cos people can find meaningful work and they can help to build up our own community. Foster Grandparents Program for example, often appeals to our retired folk. They get to work with children in our local schools. It’s fun, they receive a stipend and Miss Renea and Miss Olivette, who run the program, make sure they get connected into all the trainings and community events. Then there’s the Neighbors Training Neighbors program. People like me, can get trained and learn new skills and then train our neighbors. Our Digital Survival class is just one example of these programs.
What’s the one thing you’ve learned in life that you want to pass on to others? When we give to others, we get out of ourselves and forget our problems. Experiencing joy and connection with others as we do this, is a wonderful reward!
What are your dreams? To throw away my walking stick and run! When my daughter has finished her studies I want to go back to Charleston, SC. I came to KC when I was 18 to visit my brother and I never went back. That was a long time ago! My heart, my roots and most of my family are still there and it’s the place I still call home!