|LISA–Can you tell us about yourself? For example, what are three things we should know about you?
LINDA-I was blessed with a fun childhood, four siblings in a small town (Chillicothe Mo) where you tried to run home before the recent escapade you were involved in was found out by your parents, A.K.A. beating the phone call from a neighbor. My family was a great example of faith, but, when I was a kid, I thought my parents could’ve practiced the virtue of patience more! I found out later in life they did. I started wearing glasses when I was four years old, and have never taken my eyesight for granted; more on this later. I was a tomboy and loved to dance; in my early life I would enter dance contests at bars, sure I was 21. I often won these contests. One of the prizes was a Gift Certificate for a restaurant so on the first date with my husband I paid (via the gift certificate). I think he knew he had a keeper at that moment. 40 years later we are still together.
LISA- How did you become involved with Catholic Charities? How many years have you been involved?
LINDA– I became an employee of Catholic Charities in August of 2018, but many years before that I was already involved. As a practicing Catholic, the good works of Catholics were always on my radar. I was a participant in Outpace Poverty (our 5K Fundraiser) several years before coming aboard as an employee.
In my past work life, I enjoyed my time working at Mid-Continent Public Library, helping the public. I always said libraries are the great equalizers, meeting people where they are in education, income, and stage of life. But I was ready to find work where I could express my faith more fully. My good friend’s cousin worked at Catholic Charities, and I was a member of her Outpace Poverty Team. She let me know she was retiring, and suggested I should apply for her position. I had previously applied for several positions but never got an interview. Timing is everything in life, and I came aboard, at last, as the Donor Stewardship Specialist. I have never regretted that decision.
LISA- How does your faith intersect with the work you do for Catholic Charities?
LINDA– In so many large and small ways. For example, when I was the Donor Stewardship Specialist, donors would call to let us know a loved one had passed and the donations from their funeral would be coming our way. These moments offered chances to connect, comfort, and offer prayers. I see great work being done by the qualified staff in our service areas. Our work expresses the values and pillars of our faith. When I became the Volunteer Manager, I saw faith in action from those who just wish to help.
When I was given the opportunity to oversee the Deaf and Disabilities Ministry, I knew God was truly guiding me in ways that leave me in awe. My oldest is on the spectrum of Autism. He is 38 and when he was a child, there wasn’t a clear diagnosis and school and everyday life was a struggle. Through all the “why me,” “what is wrong with this child?” -God got me through it all. Now in my role, I see the small way we are helping so many individuals with this tiny, but huge program. I wish I had twiddles back in the day with this child. I maybe could’ve gotten more out of Mass on Sunday.
LISA- Is there anything you’d like to add?
LINDA– Just when you think you are done with challenges in life, another one comes to you. Those earlier challenges laid the groundwork for handling difficulties with grace; often making us wiser. My eyesight, as I mentioned, has been an issue since I was four years old. I always feared that I would lose my sight when I got older. In December of 2019, I was at my yearly dilated eye exam, and I got grim news. I was to go to a Retina Specialist not sometime, but ASAP. This was my first year doing Shining Star and I thought “I don’t have time,” but I went because the doctor stressed the immediacy of the situation. Long story short, I have Diabetic Retinopathy. I was upset as my Diabetes #’s were much better than others. Why me?
The good news is that thanks to modern medicine this isn’t the quick path to blindness as it was just 10 years ago. I get an injection (my doctor doesn’t like to call them shots) every seven to eight weeks with reprieves every once in a while. No loss of vision in my left eye (the affected one) and the right eye is not affected. I am ever so grateful for the advances in medicine and the grace God has afforded me.