Women's History Month Stories

March 16, 2018

In honor of Women’s History Month, we asked the members of our team to share stories about the women in their lives. And boy, did they deliver! See what they have to say about the awesome women that have shaped their lives.


Dominic

Here is a picture of my Mom at age 18. She passed away about 8 years at the age of 76. My Mom was a master gardener, amazing cook and seamstress. Her meatballs and potato salad are still the most sought after family recipe. When I think of my Mom I think of a woman who came from a very blue collar family and had a very strong work ethic, which see passed down to her children. She was loving, compassionate and thoughtful grandmother who never missed a birthday or anniversary with a card or note. She modeled for me the true meaning of sacrifice and perseverance. What impressed me the most was that my Mom lived a simple life of pleasures.


Lindsey

My grandma passed away in 2010. She always inspired me to try harder, reach farther, and always be kind. She loved to bet on the horses, read Dr. Seuss and watch Murder She Wrote. She rarely wore black and red was her favorite color. She showed kindness with FOOD! As a first generation american she celebrated her Polish heritage and embraced her freedom by volunteering at the polls each November.

Florence Gemma Olcheski was born a first generation American in Scranton, PA. Both of her parents had immigrated from Poland during the World War I. Scanton was a coal miner’s town and her father would later die of black lung, like so many others. Her mother took on the many challenges of poverty while raising her, her sister, and her brothers. Flo took a job at a bakery to make some extra money. She met my grandpa at a military sock-hop when he returned from the Korean War. They had three boys, moved to VA, and by 1987 she had 2 grandchildren (my brother and I). That is the year my grandpa died, just a few days after my 3rd birthday. She never remarried. She was the most independent woman I knew. She managed her finances with pencil and paper. She made shrewd investments; and played the lottery and the horses for fun. Best of all, she gushed over her grand babies. She taught me to love, laugh and hug. She shuttered as I climbed trees in the yard and cheered the loudest when I made it to the top. Always my biggest fan and my greatest love. On a walk, grandma found a baby sapling in the ground and pulled it up. The large tree in her yard had been cut down and she planted the baby in the stump. In 2010 my grandma passed away. Today I drove past her house where she helped raise me. I drove slowly to take a look at the strong tree growing from the stump. Thank you grandma.

Love, Your Sapling.


Jeremy

This is a picture from my Nana’s 90th birthday party a year and a half ago. She’s now 91 years old. She’s an amazing person and has always been a big influence on my life and love perspectives. She’s been there for me as a confidant my entire adulthood. She went through the great depression and met my Grampa when she was 15 years old (he was 23… that was ok back then ;-). She raised two smart and giving women and then went back to school and got her masters in Social Anthropology in her 40's! She never complains and has taught me to be patient with life and to believe in myself. Nan was there for me when the twin towers fell and I literally thought I would lose my mind after having moved to the city just 5 months before. She’s always been the first person I call when I land from a flight on any trip and the first person when I return. It’s been hard over the last couple of years as her immensely sharp mind and use of language has diminished. We cannot have the same type of conversations that we used to, but I know that her heart, spirit and mind are always there for me. Writing this now brings back all of the memories of our amazing chats over the years and I cherish all those times. Now we visit her whenever we can so she can see her new love, my daughter.


Also featured in this pic is my mom. She has been my #1 fan and supporter my entire life, always showing unconditional love. She’s been one of my biggest influences for creativity, passion, art, music and a strong work ethic. She performed as a singer song-writer when she was younger, got her masters in teaching and taught young children, before raising 2 kids of her own (my Dad did help). She then when back to work when I was 8 years old during a time when women faced severe challenges in the workforce with less pay and chauvinism in the 1980's. She persevered through a tough medical issue during that time and helped support our family so that my dad could make a career shift to pursue his passion. She has helped my sister with my nephew over the years and now loves to see my daughter. She sings with her, reads to her and shows her the beautiful things in life like nature and color. Though we can definitely battle like a good mom and son can, I love her tremendously and respect everything she has accomplished as a mom, grandma (Nana) and human.


My sister has also been an incredible inspiration throughout my life. We definitely had our tough times growing up (sharing a room until I was 8 and she was 12! Can you imagine how that was for her??). We became best friends as soon as she went to college and I entered high school and have been soul confidants since then. We share the same sensitivities for others, as well intuitiveness, openness, and zest for life. Through many challenges she has persevered and recently gained her masters in social work (very much like my Nana, a bit later in life) and got her dream job as a school social worker for young children!


The most recent addition to my influential women is my little lady. She’s inspired me since she energetically kicked and danced in her mom’s womb until the day she was born. My daughter is the most incredible little person. She is musical, loving, creative, imaginative, funny and quirky. We create and sing songs together, make silly jokes, do bath time, ride a scooter, do our bedtime routine and eat yummy things… amongst many other activities. She inspires me everyday to be my best self!


Finally, featured in my other picture (alongside my daughter) is my lovely wife. She has been my muse for many things since the day we met. She is the most loyal and trustworthy person I have ever met in my life. These are qualities in marriage that are far undervalued, and two of the underpinnings for a long relationship. Through tough times and good times, we have worked together to understand each other better, and find more calm in our relationship and life - both of which are challenging at times in this day and age. She has quirky dances with my daughter and I, she is an amazing cook, the smartest woman I know, and a very creative planner and researcher. She finds the most amazing activities to do and creates many of her own. She has supported me through 10 years of entrepreneurship and consulting, which I think might be a record of some kind! I love her and all of these women beyond words…


Lana

Who's my Wonder Woman?


That will be my grandma whom I fondly call, Nanay (mother in Filipino). All my life I grew up knowing she has my back. She bellows like no one I know, yet she's the most caring woman I have had the fortune to know. Most selfless. Most spirited. And most giving. Oh she gave wholeheartedly, she loved without reserves.


I know spirit and grace because of her. I know strength and spunk. I know the deepest of care. And I know persistence because she was the epitome of all these and more.


I grew up knowing I am loved. She may not be of too many words like my mom but boy did she give. She served. She devoted her life to her family. She worked hard. She persevered.


I am who I am mainly because of her and words cannot fully describe this grief. This emptiness knowing that she won’t be there for us to meet again or for us to sit together in silence.


Cathy

The women in life have made me who I am today, and I don't know what I would do without them! I grew up living with my mom and my grandma, so they both raised me. My mom always worked two jobs since she was a single parent, and things were tough. But we never went without. She never let us see how much she struggled. My grandma is the matriarch of our family, and she loves her family so fiercely and so completely. I am in awe of all that she has accomplished in her life, and how much she has to share and teach. And my two sisters, well.... they are the other parts of my heart. They give me so much love and support in every single thing I do. They are also good for a shopping trip or just hanging out I am so incredibly lucky to have these amazing women by my side every single day!


Fun fact: The veil I wore on my wedding day was the veil my mom wore at her wedding, and it's made from the lace from my grandmother's dress. 3 generations of love!!


Thanks to everyone for sharing such beautiful stories! What a way to honor the women that have shaped our lives. Happy Women’s History Month!