Coming Full Circle
Rhonda Gardiner, 2004 Counseling Grantee
Rhonda Gardiner has come full circle with WWIN. As a recipient of a counseling grant from WWIN in 2004, Rhonda is now one of WWIN’s most dedicated evangelists and volunteers.
It all started in 2002 when a devastating divorce ended her 10-year marriage and threw her life into chaos. Suddenly faced with being a single mom who had to provide for her family, she enrolled at Green River Community College. Determined to rebuild her life and self-esteem, she started counseling. This was afforded to her through a counseling grant through WWIN.
After graduating from Green River, Rhonda got a job as a legal assistant, and her company donated $500 since WWIN was chosen in her charity committee. That was her first time giving back to WWIN and in 2006, she was the guest speaker at the Spring luncheon. During that luncheon, she told the story of wearing the same pair of shoes for two years since that was all she could afford, and her children (ages 14 and 16 now) presented her with a new pair of shoes at the luncheon. Her old shoes are now used as a planter on her front porch as a constant reminder about how far she and her family have come.
After a few years of working at her legal assistant job in downtown Seattle, it eventually took a toll on her life with her children. Rhonda came home after a long day of work one day to her kids saying “Mom, we need to talk.” They sat her down at the kitchen table and said that they missed her since she was spending so much time commuting to work by taking the train and bus to get to her job. Rhonda credits her counseling with giving her family the empowerment to openly talk about issues and concerns. “I know that we are stronger and better for it,” said Gardiner.
Because her children were able to talk open and honestly with her, Rhonda was able to find a job closer to home and now works at Intellectual Ventures in Bellevue as a legal assistant. She now has insurance coverage, a steady pay and assurances in her work. “My kids have braces now – it’s amazing. I absolutely love my life. My family is different because of that counseling.” Rhonda now has the means to afford groceries, all of her bills are paid and her children have assurances that they are going to college.
Recently, Rhonda was asked to serve on the Fund Development committee for WWIN. “When they asked me to serve on a committee, it was a no brainer. I’m just so happy to be able to do it and be on the other side,” said Gardiner. Additionally, Rhonda serves every year at the luncheon using her one paid volunteer day from her company to set up and tear down after the event.
“I’ve been able to devote the whole day, so that’s been huge and I am so proud to be working for a company that believes in giving back,” said Gardiner.
In terms of what she hopes for WWIN in the next year, she wants to get the name of WWIN out there in the community to help even more women – just like her. And as it did for Rhonda, WWIN empowers and transforms the lives of women, and ultimately their families!