Where does your story begin?
I had a fairly normal upbringing. I was blessed with two amazing parents and a sister. My life was fairly typical, a girl from a middle-class home does well in school, rebels has a kid out of high school, then proceeds to spend a lot of time discovering who she really is. Or so I thought. A car accident that left me living in a nursing home and learning how to walk again, and losing my second child, taught me I wasn’t the person I thought I was or wanted to be. So I began to try harder. I worked harder for my son. And began to very slowly try to build back. Many bumps came in the road, I put them there.
From abusive men, court problems, and learning to be a better mom and person.
I finally made it back to school and got a degree in art and opened a nonprofit gallery that I dedicated to my Dad who was dying of Parkinson’s. We did a lot of good in Toledo. We have a lot of young artists, poets, and musicians who start through open mic nights and gallery shows. After the gallery closed I continued our efforts to change the community by hosting long-standing charity events (one will be in its 8th year this year called CAT FEST a DV event to honor our friend), and new events to help improve the community. I continue to create my own art and market that while I promote as much as I can for others. And I also work a bit in the cannabis market in Michigan. Recently, I added the Director of Mission Advancement of a local nonprofit called Be Instrumental to my list of things I do.
We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
It has not been smooth at all. A car accident when I was 23 when I broke my pelvis, fractured my spine, and lost my daughter at 9 months pregnant, was the action that turned my life around. I had one man abuse me to the point of me having to quit a job and leave everything behind in an apartment we shared. This was after he attacked his mother for defending me, all in front of my 2-year-old child.
And another man attack me when I was three months pregnant for catching him cheating on me. I had to climb out a 2nd story window with a bag of clothes, to escape him. I was the last person to see my friend alive before her husband killed her. For 8 years we have had an event in her honor, but this broke my heart. I lost my Dad to Parkinson’s two years ago after watching him fade away for the better part of 15 years.
And just in this year alone I had my hip replaced on June 1st, moved two weeks after that, nearly cut my finger off when a power tool malfunctioned, And to top it all off, I broke my elbow a couple of months ago. It’s called perseverance. You keep going.
As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
I would have to say that there are multiple things that I am equally well-known for. I’m known for being an Event Organizer in the 419 Community, which is always trying to make life better. I am also very well known for my art and overall support of others. I am a sculptor by training but have spent much more time teaching myself to become an acrylic painter. This was a choice born from necessity out of the cost of sculpture equipment.
But I also specialize in throwing events in the community that supports local charities. I am most proud of the fact that when I hear people say it takes a village to get things done… I know I don’t have a village, I have the whole of the 419. They support me In everything I do when I try to help others. And my gallery, having that made me so very proud.
What do you think about happiness?
Art, helping people, plants, my family, making people smile, music, nature, and anything else that can be considered amazing all make me happy. I’m easy to please. A whole lot makes me happy. Anything that brings true joy to myself or someone around me, that’s it, that’s what makes me happy.