This blog post was written by Susan Watson in a series of guest blogs leading up to Women in Philanthropy on May 22nd. Susan works for Northwestern Mutual and has been a UWGG donor for 12 years. Susan is a member of United Way of Greater Greensboro’s Women’s Leadership Council, serving as chair in 2010.
I thought through the archives of my life to search for that one person on whom I could bestow the title of my mentor. Everybody has one, right? I discovered that my mentors were many, they were different ages, had different faces, different body styles, from different walks of life, they even crossed gender lines. They were teachers, supervisors, friends who listened and supported me, and coworkers who put up with me daily.
However, there was one woman, one lone woman who stood out from the others. She became a single parent when I was five years old. For 51 years she stood in front of me to protect me, she stood beside me to cheer me on, she stood behind me to prop me up on more occasions than I’d like to admit. And did I mention that more times than not, she stood in my face over her grandchildren, challenging every decision I made regarding them. June 20, 2007 my mother left a hole in my life that will never be filled, but her legacy lives on through my children.
Mentors can be younger than you. A mentor is someone who teaches and guides, listens, holds you accountable and loves you when you do not meet expectations. That is where my children come in; Julie, Jeff, and Justin continue to have more impact on me than anyone. They know my successes and my failures. They can read all of my unspoken expressions. They encourage and lift me up, they listen, and they have no problem calling me out when they have the audacity to think I’m wrong.
On May 22nd, United Way of Greater Greensboro will celebrate the power of women to create positive change in their community. Keynote speaker Karen Walrond, author of The Beauty of Different and photographer/blogger for Chookooloonks.com, believes that each of us have a unique and different gift that can make a big impact in our world. At United Way, we believe it’s women, just like Susan (and her mom), who will use these gifts in a way that makes the world a better place.