By: Ruthe Holmberg

We’ve all had (or have) someone who’s been a mentor, supporter, cheerleader in our lives.  I was fortunate to have three wonderful women who gave me a hand up.  Miss Carolyn was my neighbor.  She lived in the little white farmhouse across the street.  Despite the 30-year difference in our age, she demonstrated a true Christian spirit.  I’d go over in the evening after putting the children to bed and listen to her stories, laugh at her jokes, and glean wisdom from her years of experience as a wife, mother, grandmother, and friend.  She treated everyone as a child of God, not only in her talk but in her actions.

Carolyn Q. was a counselor at the first high school I ever visited as a college admissions counselor.  After reciting my well-rehearsed speech about the benefits of her students attending my college, she leaned back in her chair and asked if I’d like to know how to effectively do my job.  She was my professional mentor, a leader in Kentucky education.  Carolyn was a quiet woman, always listening, and then, when everyone else in the meeting had spoken their piece, she’d stand and, in her resonant voice, share her wisdom.  She was the epitome of a strong, professional woman in the workforce.

My Aunt Florence loved me unconditionally.  She was the essence of style and grace.  She had a wonderful laugh and a great sense of humor.  Aunt Florence was an incredible daughter, sister, wife, mother and grandmother.  Her home was welcoming to all, and she made it seem effortless.  She was beautiful, inside and out.  To this day, I don’t purchase a piece of clothing that I don’t ask myself, “Would Aunt Florence like this?”

All three of these women made a huge impact on my life.  They encouraged me when I was down, comforted me in the face of adversity, cheered my accomplishments and loved me regardless.  They were witnesses on how to treat others, laugh and learn from our mistakes, be professional in the workplace, love our families and care for our neighbors.  They lived the golden rule, “Do unto others as you would have done to you.”

Miss Carolyn, Carolyn and Aunt Florence have passed on.  But I carry them in my heart.  As I’ve grown older, I reach out to find young people that I can help support, mentor, and give a hand up.  Isn’t this what we should all do?  Pay tribute to the person or persons in your life that have been there for you by becoming a SPARC Hope monthly supporter.  Whether it’s $25, $50, $100, $200 or more each month, add our young women and men and their families to your monthly tithe. These monies can provide food, gasoline, rent and utility assistance, holiday celebrations, and unexpected repairs.   Let’s offer them a hand up as they work to better themselves and their children.    Go to

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