Everyone has an ED/Story. What was learning like for you? Was it hard? Were there challenges? If so, did you figure it out on your own, all by yourself…or did you have help?
Well this ED/Story demonstrates how education and skill building coupled with the ability to embrace kindness as well as opportunity results in true success.
Regina Schowengerdt was raised in Calaveras County. The oldest of 5 children, Regina and her brothers and sisters weathered a number of challenges growing up including homelessness after a sudden move out of Calaveras County. Struggling to make the transition from small town life to an urban setting, Regina quit high school – on the spot – on the very first day of her junior year at Salinas High School, making her the primary care giver to her younger siblings.
Within the year she returned to Calaveras County and placed in the foster care of a couple about whom she stills speaks lovingly. Their only demand – “get back in high school, girl”. She did, and after some hard work and “credit counting” she graduated and went directly into Stanislaus State, majoring in psychology to (as she says) “learn how better to serve and
Despite a challenging childhood resulting in moves and other struggles, Regina never relinquished her capacity to give OR to receive and that seems to be at the heart of who she is. In fact, she says of herself, “who I have become is not who I always was”.
..and I thought, well there it is…that’s the story. But it wasn’t the whole story — it wasn’t the ED/Story.
Prior to the move to Salinas, Regina’s family lived next door to another family – mother, father, children – and she remembers amid the uncertainty and chaos of her childhood with finite clarity, the mother from next door giving her a gift – socks, the kind with toes, a gift just for her – because the mother from next door just wanted to give the then 13 year old Regina a gift. Regina never forgot the kindness.
…and that capacity for giving and receiving served her well as she began to welcome opportunity – throughout the rest of her childhood to eventual success in high school and college and ultimately to her FIRST career – in business. But after a decade or so, Regina left a successful management position in the private sector because she still searched for a way to serve.
While on this search, Regina unexpectedly ran into her former neighbor – the lady with the socks, by then, a local business owner. Regina shared with her the events of the past years, both personal and otherwise and she causally mentioned “If you need part time help, I’m looking for part time work”.
Within the week the neighbor called Regina, asked her if she’d like to work part time and just like the gift of socks years before it was a pivotal and meaningful moment for Regina…because 12 years later Regina still works for the local business woman and the local business.
For the kind neighbor from Regina’s childhood, the woman who clearly had a profound impact on her life, was Nancy Johnson co-owner/operator, since 1980 with her husband and family, of Daneri’s Mortuary – where Regina having learned to accept many gracious gifts now herself counsels, cares and most definitely serves.
I was struck by Regina’s story – how despite moves, struggles, challenges, even loss, she retains this capacity to accept kindness and be kind. She quietly stated “strength and courage is in all of us – there just has to be someone out there to show you what that looks like”
We were sitting at her kitchen table. She was dressed comfortably, at ease, in her own home. I, on the other hand, was slightly overcome – her words, well…moved me and there I was…sort of blubbering.
She quietly got up, came back with a box of kleenex and with a soft smile, slid it across her kitchen table to me.
Comforting others…the girl just can’t help it…
THAT’S an ED/Story