My mother taught my siblings and I the meaning of unconditional support and love. She supported and loved her children, her family, her friends, and even her foes through difficult times and happier times with steady perseverance.
She was raised one of four girls with her mother and father in Blacksburg, Virginia. It is no secret, she was her father’s ‘son’ as she quickly learned his handyman skills. She is a true jack of all trades from fixing your plumbing to sewing her wedding dress to pitching business deals to potential clients. Her resilience has always been inspiring and intimidating. After her divorce from my father, she raised my brother, sister, and I as a single mother strategically switching from one industry to another to provide for us. In an uncommon decision following the split, my father and her chose to remain on the land we lived on – one living on one half, the other on the other half with a path connecting the two – so that we would always have our father after she lost hers. Her home is and has always been a revolving door for family, friends, and acquaintances of the two. She will always tell you she is proud of you and that she believes in you. I’m sure there were some instances that she was not. There was no surprise to me when she told me about her support of Women for Women International.
She first learned about Women for Women International from her mother Paula Boling Richardson. She distinctly remembers her mother asking her sisters and her to consider donating to the charity as it meant a lot to her mother personally; women advocating for women.
She believes women should advocate for other women and pay it forward. Not long after her mother’s question, she found herself in a failing marriage, then a divorce with the primary responsibilities as a single mom providing for and raising three kids. To find balance, she simply started and ran a business for several years until her youngest was in school. Starting a business was a natural step. After all, she had seen other family members do so, so why not her? She supported us by sewing custom draperies and bedding. She had sewn her entire life for pleasure and it never occurred to her how important having a skill that she could immediately generate income was until that moment. This realization made her donations to Women for Women International have a deeper meaning. Women for Women International empowers women to build lives for themselves, their families, and communities where they learn they are valued and can accomplish amazing things if provided the tools to do so. Their contributions are critical to restoring communities in a meaningful way, one day at a time.
Her sister Kristen Boling Chryssikos and she have both been donating to the organization for years. She isn’t a writer, but she has kept every letter that she has received from her sisters. She knows that her sponsorship is a meaningful way to help her sisters not only in the present but to also pass lessons learned to future generations as she has tried to do so with her kids.
She is a rock for our family and especially for me. Through her actions, words, and support of the organization she has shown that advocating for and helping others comes first.