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Thursday, 15 March 2018 18:14

The Forks in the Road

When I first began writing my memoir, I considered entitling my book, "The Fork in the Road". The further I dug back into my memory bank, the more research I did on my background, and the many photos I looked through convinced me it was the perfect title because it depicted my life. Every crisis or tragedy I faced growing-up put me face-to-face with reality, a reality that needed fixed. For me, the only way to fix it was to backtrack and take another 'road'. However, during the writing process I changed the title to what it is today, "The Road Back to Hell'. I felt this title better described my feelings and fears as I pulled out of my driveway and headed to North Carolina.

I mentioned in an earlier blog that I have been in a 'funk' lately. Once again, I found myself at a 'fork-in-the road'. For past few months, I have been struggling with these thoughts― 'Do I take another five to six years of my life to write a second book and work to get it published, or do I pursue another avenue that is fulfilling and purposeful?" 

After much contemplation, I realized that at this time, I do not have the energy and drive it takes to write and market another book. While pondering my dilemma, several opportunities have presented themselves and convinced me to spend my time mentoring at-risk children and young adults. In my February blog, I shared the story of the day in January when I spoke to a group of teens at Keystone High School. When I walked out of the school that day, my mind was at ease, my heart was full and I felt more peaceful than I had for some time. Mentoring was not a new idea, and these thoughts accompanied me on my drive home. Several years ago, I discussed it with a couple of teachers and a guidance counselor at the local high school, as well as some members of my church.  However, promoting my memoir, board member commitments and spending time with my grandchildren took precedence. There was never enough time to pursue it.

In January 2016, when I started lining-up local venues to sell and promote my book, someone suggested I contact Deb Gregori, Executive Director at Pentz-Run Youth Services in DuBois, PA. I had never heard of this organization until I participated in their Sip 'n Snack fund-raising event in March. The moment I met Deb, I felt very comfortable and welcomed. As the night progressed, I met other board members and learned more about the organization. When I read their mission statement― "to provide a safe, secure, nurturing environment for male and female youth that require short or long-term alternatives to family living", I knew I had to become involved. That fall, Deb asked me if I would serve on the Board of Directors. I immediately agreed.

In the past, I have served as a volunteer in nearly every community service organization in Brookville. While I have enjoyed them all, my favorite group is Pentz-Run Youth Services. This year, I enjoyed assisting Debbie with the Sip 'n Snack event, which was held last Saturday evening. We were both delighted with the attendance and support. All proceeds from the evening will go towards serving the needs of the youth who fill the group home. While driving home, I realized I have added another cause to my mission.

The third and final sign that I am headed in the right direction took place last night at our church council meeting. A board member from the Brookville Area School District attended our meeting to talk with us about supporting a Literacy and Learning Center that is being formed in Brookville. The purpose of the organization is to offer free tutoring and guidance to Brookville students who are in need of extra help and support.  Unfortunately, the number of Brookville students who are not receiving the guidance and emotional encouragement at home, is swiftly increasing. The goal of this new organization is to provide volunteer tutors to fill this roll. I immediately volunteered and explained my enthusiasm for this program by saying, "This is exactly the type of mission I need to support. Since the beginning of the year, I have felt a calling to serve in this capacity and this program seems to be the perfect fit. It's my way of saying thank you for all of the blessings that have been bestowed upon me."

From the very beginning of my writing journey, my goal was to write about my life's experience for my family and myself. I hoped that by sharing the experiences my four sisters and I faced while growing up in a dysfunctional environment, our children and grandchildren would have a better understanding of what it sometimes takes to survive and succeed. After completing my book, I realized my message might help others who had endured some of the same experiences and struggles. Below is the last paragraph of my epilogue in "The Road Back to Hell"―

"The next step on my journey is to participate is some type of local mentoring program for at-risk teens. If my story and persuade someone to change his or her mind-set from, "No, I can't" to "Yes, I can", my mission will be accomplished.

That was written in 2015. Now is the time for me to accomplish that goal!