As an extension of the four-part vision of A Woman’s Business to Reveal, Restore, Release and Replicate, every month #HeartofaWoman blogger Renee Berry showcases a woman to challenge the stereotypes and change the conversation about and between women. Do you have a story to tell? Let us know! Send your thoughts and suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Who: Alma Franchesca Padgett. As far as my age, it varies from August 9, 1952 to August 9, 1954. I am a widow, a mother of three daughters who are all very different, unique individuals, a grandmother, great-grandmother, caretaker for my brother who has been disabled since birth and am thankful for my church family, the sisterhood I’ve found there, and real friends!
Where: I was born in Macon, Georgia, but I currently residing in Sicklerville, New Jersey. My father was in the military and did not find out about me until later on. When he came back for me, he also came with a wife. From there, I paid a life-long price as the two warred with each other. I did live with him and his wife for a period of time, but things became too much for his wife and I returned to my grandmother and later to my mother.
What’s your average day look like? My average day is caring for my grandsons, Anthony and Tony, who have both been diagnosed with autism. They are my heart and I pray I am here to see them into adulthood. While they are in school, I spend my time on daily chores, my study time, running errands, and I also like serving at two of my church’s food pantries, meeting new people and inviting them out to church. I also have started working on my autobiography from my childhood to adulthood and my relationship with my mother. For fun, I enjoy reading and my quiet time.
I previously worked with substance abuse clients, but upon finding myself with custody of my grandsons, I was no longer able to work as my position often required extended hours, morning and evening, and I was unable to find appropriate care for them. Tony, who was almost seven years old at the time, was not toilet trained and was non-verbal. He was a challenge. For more than two months, I took him to work with me daily. My office was great in helping me, but my work required that I was in an out of the office, so as one could imagine, this could not continue.
What inspires you? I am inspired by women who have overcome obstacles to be whole. In spite of a difficult childhood, I have been a department head in a level one trauma center, successfully started a small business management company and tax preparation firm, and was in the process of obtaining my substance abuse counselor license prior to taking my grandchildren. My family and my church keep me going. I love music, especially pianos. I enjoy all types of music, from classical to contemporary, meeting new people, cooking, wedding planning and boating, I love the water!
What cause is close to your HEART? What is close to my heart is helping women with substance abuse issues. I was an advocate on the Governor’s Council for Substance Abuse and a strong supporter of support services. I have attended and spoke several times to the New Jersey State Senate and General Assembly in reference to services for a very vulnerable population and the inequities of treatment, especially regarding women.
Do you have any Advice for women today? The most important advice I can give women is to put God first, value yourself, do not be ashamed to ask for help and surround yourself with positive women who are about something.
Renee A. Berry (formerly known as Renee A. Simons) is a newly married, lifestyle writer and member of the AWB Network, serving as a blogger for the “Heart of a Woman” weekly blog. Her loves include family, friends, design arts, fashion and a growing obsession with hair and its impact on today’s media, culture and community. Her quirky personal stories, plus hair and beauty product reviews, can be found on her blog “Curls and Clothes,” as well as the websites of Old School 100.3 and Praise 103.9 Philadelphia radio stations. Connect with Renee on Twitter and Instagram.
Have a story idea or feedback about something you read on “Heart of a Woman”? Would you like to be a guest blogger? Contact us at email@example.com or leave a comment.