I am very proud to be a staff member of the Coalition for Compassion and Justice. I believe that my life experiences help me to understand the struggles of people, especially women, who seek to free themselves from the bondage of poverty.
I grew up on a small farm in central California. My father was a truck driver/farmer. My mother was a bookkeeper for a large local company. I had two sisters and two brothers. My mother was occupied with her job, and my dad was on the road a lot. We spent much of our time with grandparents.
My mother’s parents were storybook grandparents. They were gentle, loving farm people who took good care of us. When I was 5 and my younger sister was 4, she contracted polio. She survived, but it was a difficult time for our family in many ways. During this time, we were transferred to the home of our other grandmother, and I found myself locked into an abusive situation that no 5-year old is equipped to handle. It would affect my life and my choices in many ways.
I grew up, and when I was 18, I married. I had two children who were (and still are) the delight of my life.
We lived 35 miles from the nearest town, without a phone, running water or electricity. I cooked on a wood-burning stove, and I only saw other adults once a week at church. It was an isolated, lonely and abusive marriage that lasted for 15 years.
It amazes me that people who noticed that I was struggling continued to help me until I had the strength, maturity and courage to help myself, take responsibility for my future and give my children the life they deserved. Breaking those chains was a slow and painful process. But others saw something in me that I was unable to see in myself. They thought my children and I were worth the time, patience and money they were spending to help us.
It was compassion that changed my life and opened the door to a better future. And so, today, I am an author and/or illustrator of seventeen books, some of which have even won awards. My artwork is in several important national collections of children’s book art. I have spoken in schools, libraries and museums all over this country. Far more important to me, I have been happily remarried for 25 years. My children are healthy, happy adults with productive lives and children of their own. I have discovered the joys of being a great grandmother.
I love to hike, backpack, garden and cook, and I especially enjoy sharing these things with my family. I am fascinated by the intricacies of nature, and enjoy birding wherever my husband and I travel. I collect seashells, Victorian Valentines and antique kerosene lamps, and I love to read a good novel to relax.
I am Director of Special Projects at Open Door, and able to give back to my community in ways that would never have been possible without the sustained help I received when I needed it most. I believe that CCJ encourages, empowers and equips people to live up to their full potential, just as I was encouraged, empowered and equipped, and it is very satisfying to have a small part in that amazing process.