One of the most rewarding things about starting ISP has been the people I have been blessed to meet and get to know. I say over and over again how since starting this project it has enhanced my life in ways I cannot explain which is probably why I share it with such passion to others. I want everyone to experience the same enlightenment and joy I have felt meeting so many amazing people from all walks of life and discovering ways to connect with others that I didn’t even really know existed.
I was having lunch with a friend the other day and when speaking of a mutual friends’ personal struggles it was determined that we all have our own “stuff” that is handed to us in life either by others or by our own doing. The key is how we handle this “stuff” to better ourselves and turn it into something productive and positive or if we choose to allow it to be our demise. This is probably something that would have never come out of my mouth a year ago but after meeting so many inspiring people I completely believe this philosophy and how our life tragedies and triumphs shape us. It can mold us into a shell of what we once were for better or worse. It can catapult us into achieving greatness or cause us to sink into sorrow and self-pity. In the end it is up to us which path we take and how these life experiences and lessons determine how we continue our journey.
I want to introduce you to Linda. I met Linda when I hired her to make some mermaid cookie wands for my twin’s 3rd birthday party. I saw her work at another event and asked my friend about her. There was no need to elaborate on her obvious talent however what I learned that day was Linda was a single Mom of 4 children ranging in age from 11-16 and was a recent widow making a living off of these culinary masterpieces. As a working mom of two I was instantly impressed at what she was accomplishing as a mother of 4 who tragically and suddenly was raising her children without the help of her husband. I knew she was at the top of my list of people to sit down with to share her story when we launched this blog in June.
Linda has always made these cookie wands, cupcakes and cakes for her own kids for about 13 years. She told me she would pray that God would use her cookies and talent to help and raise others somehow. Several years later a friend of hers asked her to make some pink ribbon cookies to help raise money for her Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure to sell at church. They sold straight away and next thing she knew she was making more cancer ribbon cookies for family members in hospice and at hospitals supporting their loved ones during tragic and trying times. Seeing the affect these small tokens of generosity and love had on others she knew this was her calling.
In a twist of irony, this same friend that asked her to start making the pink ribbon cookies to help raise money for breast cancer research and awareness a few years later herself got breast cancer and had a double mastectomy. The great news is she is doing great and is still cancer free to this day.
As in many stories where people find what they are called to do in this life opportunity fell in her lap once again. Six years ago a friend had mentioned her to the luxury car dealership, Fletcher Jones, and she was asked to do some gift baskets for their fundraiser for ACT Today!, a non-profit that raises awareness and provides treatment services and support to families of autistic children. Having a son with autism this was a perfect match for two of her passions. After this event she was then invited to help and donate cupcakes/cookies to the ACT Today!’s annual celebrity event.
Linda’s husband passed very unexpectedly only 2 years ago. When ACT Today! heard about the loss of her husband they called her to ask what she needed and what they could do to support her and her children. In conjunction with another organization,the Eddie Guardado Foundation, they provided her through a grant an iPad for her son (several apps help in development for autistic children) and another organization, I Padrini, provided her son with several thousands of dollars for speech therapy to a facility of her choice.
Through her struggles and obvious hardship, her faith has never wavered and she continues to pour her heart and soul into her cookies and cupcakes. “I don’t look at it as work as I am able to pour a lot of energy and love into what I make. I try to make every order special for the customer. I suppose it shows because I am always told they can feel the love that goes into them”.
I asked Linda to please make a few star cookie wands from ISP to give to some or our favorite local companies for a fundraiser. When I came to pick them up she also had these on the top of the box to give to my twins. Of course we love spreading kindness to others but oh how sweet it was to have some thrown back our way. It truly made my day.
Thank you Linda for being you. An inspiration, a talent, a strong woman, entrepreneur, philanthropist and providing happiness to others always. The world could use more people like you!
For more information on Linda’s products she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information on ACT Today! Please visit: ACT Today! | Autism Care and Treatment