Twenty years ago, one of the things that drove me crazy about living in a small town in Maine was everyone knew me and everything I did. Now, the very thing that drove me a way is what keeps me grounded. I am often teased about not being able to go anywhere but someone knows me and I love it!
I had the most wonderful childhood; two loving hard working parents who did anything for their children. My sister and I grew up in a wonderful neighborhood filled with families just like ours. My house was always a popular place to visit mostly because of my parents, everyone knows them and everyone loves them.
There was a yellow house next door with its driveway right next to ours and was often the place to ride our bikes and play basketball. They had a house full of children and we were all very close. So close that I remember our cat actually moved her and her babies into their house, a very funny thing to have seen.
One of the kids that grew up in that house, Brenda was off doing her own thing as I finished growing up but the bond of our childhood friendship never disappeared and our lives have forever been intertwined.
Brenda was the first person to employ me when I returned to the workforce twenty years ago. We worked together for a long while and shared a lot of fun times. Later, her young daughters (now teenagers) came to my childcare program. Our paths crossed again when we became neighbors and I will never forget the reassuring feeling I had knowing she was right behind me.
When I began planning my return trip to Guatemala I shared it with my friends and family. For me, the trip is very cool, very exciting, and very important—Now, I don't expect everyone to feel the same way but, I remember, last year feeling a little like no one really was too interested. I worked my butt off for it and was thrilled to be able to be part of a team that was doing an amazing thing and the response was kinda ehh.
Sheila Higgins and all of the ladies at Assistance Plus, a cousin and, a few old friends were heavily involved in filling my suitcase with donations. My immediate family and friends were like “Oh ya! We’re so proud of you. Have fun!” That was it.—Not gonna lie it hurt my feelings a little. I had taken tons of pictures written some pretty incredible stories and nothing...I thought, gee thanks, considering the countless hours I have sat listening to their stories and looking at their photos. As I started planning this trip I didn’t expect anything different.
Wow how that's all changed...
My family is so into this trip it just blows my mind. I began hearing from all kinds of friends and family. All of my work friends have supported me and I mean ALL. I don't think there is a person in the place that doesn't know I am going to Guatemala, or hasn't engaged in conversation about it, made a donation, or just offered their friendly support-and I thank you!
Then one of the most touching things happened. Brenda, that same childhood friend, wrote to me telling me of her new career path, and how she thought we could work together on my Closet Cleaning for Guatemala 2011 project. Brenda had just purchased a consignment boutique in Waterville and she wanted to give me a spot in her store to sell my clothing. She believed I was doing a selfless act, helping others to help themselves –she believed in me.
My heart overflowed with joy…
One of my girls has said my trip to has many ‘layers’ to it and she is so right. I have been journaling this process in hopes to one day put it in words how one simple act of kindness can grow and infect the masses, how women-to-women when we banned together supporting one another we can accomplish our dreams.
I hope that you all get a chance to visit Retail Therapy and meet Brenda she is truly a phenomenal lady and I cannot thank her enough for her generosity, love and support. Brenda is just one of the many reasons why I will always love living in a small town and how great it is to have people actually knowing everything I do, sometimes everything I do ain’t half bad.
|The Guatemala Wall|
|Juli & Brenda|
|The Guatemala Wall|
|Brenda and two of her daughters (Monica left & Sabrina right)|
43 Elm Street in Waterville ME 04901
Tue-Wed 11am-5pm, Thurs-Fri 11am-7pm & Sat 11am-5pm