I would like to share with you all the important lessons I learned from my mother, Barbara White Kohlhausen. She would tell me:
Look both ways!
Don’t use other people’s combs-
Don’t drink out of other people’s cups.
Always wear your seatbelt!
Don’t be fresh-
Lock your doors!
Make sure you locked your doors!!
What you do to your face you do to your neck-
All very important tips for me, I am certain you will agree. One lesson I learned from Barbara was not something she said to me, but something I learned by watching her.
Much of my mom’s professional career revolved around social work and helping others.
Her first job putting her Masters degree in Social Work from Columbia University degree to work was for the county’s Meals on Wheels (MOW). At one facility she was the social worker in charge of the S.T.A.R. program for frail elderly. She also taught a Life Skills course for 9 years at our county community college.
Barbara served on our county’s Hospice board, and when she left MOW to become an entrepreneur, she served on MOW’s board and became a Hospice volunteer.
My mom was thinking of slowing down, working a few days a week or retiring…When an opportunity opened up to become the CEO of the county’s MOW location, Barbara was asked to fill that leadership role. She spent almost 6 1/2 years there, and when she stepped down, she moved back onto their board.
And at that stage in her life, because she had more time on her hands and more of herself to give, my mom began volunteering at a local animal rescue. Her childhood fear of dogs went away, and these puppies, dogs, kittens, and cats stole her heart and filled her week and weekend days. She also continued her service on the Rotary, and throughout her career she has been recognized and honored as a volunteer and as a leader.
*Here she is receiving a standing ovation for her work at Meals on Wheels Rockland in 2015
Now, she has settled into her new life, in the South… and her days are filled giving back and supporting organizations that make life better. She is on the board of our local community garden, she volunteers in non-winter months to provide weekly art and nature activities to adults with developmental disabilities and acquired brain injuries, she volunteers at our town’s farmers market and most recently was recruited to do some fundraising for our city’s new public library.
What an example she has given me, what an influence she has had on others, and what an impact she has made on all the different non-profits she has chosen to dedicate her time. Not everyone has the time to volunteer, not everyone chooses to work for non-profit, not everyone could work for a non-profit, and not everyone is motivated to work to help others and to make a difference. I recognize this and I am grateful I have had this role model right next to me my entire life to inspire me to make a difference.