The Women in My Life
By Trista Stout-Walker, Vice President of Community Impact
I was asked to write about women in my life who left a positive influence on my journey. That task sends me back to the beginning. It begins with my mother, grandmothers, great- grandmother, aunts, and great aunt. All of these women shed light on the importance of spirituality, bravery, advocacy, leadership, kindness, and determination. All were servant leaders who volunteered and cared for others in the community. All advocated for others who were facing domestic violence, addiction, and mental health. They taught me to work hard, have faith, trust in yourself, and remember to love and care for yourself. As you can see, I was always destined to work at a nonprofit.
My first volunteer experience was at Catholic Social Services in Jackson, AL. The thrift store just opened in downtown and the parish was ecstatic about the accomplishment. It was summertime, I had lots of free time and needed the opportunity. My mother arranged for Mrs. Carol Duffin to support me in this journey. Mrs. Duffin was a neighbor, a fellow parishioner, and a wonderful mentor. I was not thrilled about sorting and hanging up clothes, but I enjoyed the fellowship and camaraderie. I adored the hidden treasures donated to the thrift store. I purchased a navy pin-striped leisure suit for five dollars. My mother was mortified, I was elated.
I volunteered a couple days a week for about a month. One day, I was volunteering and the social worker brought in a family who loss everything to a house fire. One of the children was close to my age. I volunteered to show her some new donations. I spent the afternoon finding age appropriate items and sharing fashion tips. That experience will stay with me forever. A partner agency stood in the gap and assisted a family to achieve wholeness once again. Every day women throughout the world stand in that gap for each other, their families, and their communities. I appreciate all the amazing women leaders and will celebrate alongside them this month. Thank you to Toni Ice and Mrs. Carol Duffin for placing me on the path to servant leadership