Interview

Gardenuity’s Growth: Lemon to Lemonade

Women in their 50s and beyond are showing they are unstoppable and are shattering age bias. Almost 12 months ago a comment was made by Don Lemon, a former CNN anchor, that “women over 50 are past their prime.” A year ago we at Gardenuity wholeheartedly disagreed and over the past year we have been sharing stories of extraordinary women who illustrate perfectly that women over 50 are finding success and changing the world for the better. As a wrap up to our Lemon to Lemonade program we thought it was only fitting to share the story and advice of those women on the Gardenuity team that are over 50 and proof positive that extraordinary has no age limit.

Over the past year we have been introduced to extraordinary women. Women like Margot Carter, Tracy Rector, Sharee Brell, Suzan Morno-Wade, Diane Paddison, Brenda Stoner, Ann Marie Scichili, Pam Cho, Ginny Kissling, Nancy Henger, and Arianna Huffington. Women who inspire, encourage, and all have stories to share. We have received nominations from across the country, and we celebrate every woman who was nominated and those who nominated them.  

This week we are sharing advice and stories from the women over 50 who are part of the Gardenuity team. The women who are getting dirty together every day and bringing gardens and gardening experiences to people across the country.

The women at Gardenuity prove that there is no cap on the strength and impact of a woman!

Kelly Waterman

How would you describe yourself in three words?

Kelly would describe herself as an advocate, very personable, and hard-working. These attributes have allowed Kelly to succeed in her sales and marketing career and work her way up the ladder to where she is now. 

She left her role in Sales behind and took a consulting job centered around radio stations when she had her daughter, Happy. Happy has special needs, so eventually, Kelly quit her consulting job to focus on Happy’s needs. This is where her advocacy comes in – Kelly was able to use her extroverted nature and sales skills to make significant changes in schools for people with disabilities. 

For example, in Plano, she advocated for peer tutor classes which got implemented under her persistence, and started a committee called SAGE (Special and Gifted Education). Furthermore, at Highland Park High School, she started the Sparkling Scots, which is a cheerleading squad for special needs girls who want to be cheerleaders. 

Her advocacy does not end at school, she is on the board of directors at Main Gate, which is an organization that offers therapeutic horseback riding. Main Gate offers help to first responders, veterans, people with disabilities, and people with mental health issues.  

If you could champion one cause, what would it be?

Therapeutic horseback riding at Main Gate is Kelly’s current cause to champion. It is very near and dear to her heart because of how amazing and life-changing it has been for her daughter, Happy, as well as the amazing services it provides to the military, which her dad and her son are a part of. They are currently working on a  9.8 million dollar project which will be completed by October 2024, after starting fundraising in April 2023.

What lessons have you learned that you would like to pass on to your children?

The lessons that Kelly would like to pass on to Happy and Nick are…

  1. Kindness always wins in the long run.
  2. There is power in calm – keep your emotions in check to make a change.

What are your greatest over fifty accomplishments?

Kelly is really proud of the Sparkling Scots – she believes that it has been a game-changer for Highland Park High School and made it a more diverse, accepting, and sparkly place. In addition to this, she believes she has been impactful in changing the medical community, one appointment at a time with Happy. Unfortunately, many doctors aren’t dialed in with the latest and greatest research, so she is helping to change the attitudes and prejudice of people with disabilities.

You are wise, you have experience, you know your worth, and you speak your mind- What do you love most about being over 50?

Perspective, wisdom, and not repeating mistakes of the past are things that Kelly loves about being over 50. She has been able to reflect to see the wrong turns that shaped her and allowed her to grow and learn, but knows that she’s been there and done that to make her wiser and more seasoned. 

Sylvia Nava

How would you describe yourself in three words?

Sylvia would describe herself as resilient, generous, and kind. 

If you could champion one cause, what would it be?

Sylvia would champion animal welfare. 

What lessons have you learned that you would like to pass on to your children?

The lessons that Sylvia would like to pass on to her children are as follows: 

  1. Always be direct and stand your ground.
  2. There’s no time for excuses, no pain, no gain, pay as you go (don’t hold onto debt).

What are your greatest over fifty accomplishments?

Started running marathons, hiking mountains such as Pikes Peak, otherwise known as a fourteener, having my first Grandchild & staying married.

You are wise, you have experience, you know your worth, and you speak your mind- What do you love most about being over 50?

Not caring about what others think, being myself.

Julie Eggers

How would you describe yourself in three words?

Julie is faithful, loyal, and optimistic.

If you could champion one cause, what would it be?

The cause that Julie is passionate about is providing an excellent education for all children.

What lessons have you learned that you would like to pass on to your children?

The lessons that Julie has learned over the years are as follows…

  1. Invest in faith, family, friends, and financial pursuits.
  2. Always do your best, work hard, and save your money!
  3. Maintain a good attitude always.
  4. Be positive.
  5. Build bridges, don’t burn bridges.
  6. Be kind and respectful toward everyone.
  7. Show up! Showing up is 90% of the battle, and you never know what you will learn.
  8. Finally, never give up.

What are your greatest over fifty accomplishments?

Julie’s most proud accomplishments from her fifties are listed below…

  1. Her 33-year marriage to her husband, Steve.
  2. Raising two faithful, kind, and considerate adult children who enjoy each other’s company.
  3. Managing to have always had someone to cook for her, whether it was her friends at her first job after college who shared their peanut butter sandwiches with her or Donna, who showers her with delicious cookies and snacks all the time, or Steve, who cooks for her almost every night. She believes that is quite an accomplishment at her age!

You are wise, you have experience, you know your worth, and you speak your mind- What do you love most about being over 50?

The things that Julie loves most about being over fifty are reaping the joys of past investments in her relationships with family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers, as well as seeing her kids enjoy the company of each other and those they surrounded them with as children, watching her company grow and seeing the positive impact gardening has on co-workers and customers every day, and finally continuing to learn something new every day.

Shelley Jaggers

How would you describe yourself in three words?

Shelley would describe herself as introverted, loyal, and honest. These attributes have impacted Shelley and led to her success in her career because of her path as an accountant. To be an accountant, you have to be honest since you are dealing with finances. In addition to that, her loyalty, soft-spoken nature, and honesty have allowed her to develop deep relationships with people. 

If you could champion one cause, what would it be?

Shelley believes in showing lots of love to people through relationships. She believes that tiny micro-moments of really listening to people, letting them feel heard, and showing compassion are important ways to show love and make a small but important impact. 

What lessons have you learned that you would like to pass on to your children?

The lessons that Shelley is passing on to her children are…

  1. Save your money early.
  2. Don’t spend frivolously.
  3. Invest in people knowing that there is a chance that they will let you down.
  4. Don’t give your time and energy to people who haven’t earned your trust.
  5. Relationships are the most important – it cannot be all about the money and drive.

What are your greatest over fifty accomplishments?

Shelley’s greatest over fifty accomplishments are restarting her accounting career after time taken off to raise her children, as well as building a purpose for retiring. She and her husband converted a camper van to allow them to take hiking and photography trips whenever they please. She loves waking up in the van and getting up before sunrise to take in the surroundings wherever she ventures. 

You are wise, you have experience, you know your worth, and you speak your mind- What do you love most about being over 50?

Shelley believes that being over fifty and having so much life experience allows her to show compassion and mercy and be judgment-free for people going through problems. She knows that everyone goes through something, and you have to meet and love them where they are. Living and thinking in this way is what she strives for, and offers her a lot of freedom. 

Donna Letier

How would you describe yourself in three words?

Donna sees herself as faithful, ferocious, and funny. Although she is not sure, her family would agree with her choices. 

  1. Faithful because God is and will always be her boss. He has taken her on a journey that has been full of opportunities and challenges, as well as shown her what real joy looks like. For Donna, faithful is a verb, something to be practiced every day.
  2. Being faithful has three components, trust, loyalty, and “faithful to the facts”. Ferocious- practicing fierceness when needed.  Protecting those people, principles, and practices that need to be cared for.
  3. Finally, funny. She would love to be thought of as a person who is fun, funny and can find humor in most situations. She likes to be the person that invites laughter into every day.

If you could champion one cause, what would it be?

The cause that Donna would champion is bringing back Home Economics into our educational system. She believes that learning about nutrition, personal well-being, cooking, gardening, financial literacy, and life skills are necessary for success – skills that are better learned through active doing rather than passive learning. A renovated home economics curriculum could equip children with the basic skills that are essential for living a long and healthy life. In the midst of an obesity epidemic and mental health crisis, bringing back an educational curriculum that equips young people with basic life skills is well timed with the added advantage of getting students standing, walking around, going outside, and moving.

What lessons have you learned that you would like to pass on to your children?

Donna hopes to pass down what her parents gave her – unconditional love and acceptance of others- and that failing was okay. 

  1. She wants her kids to know to love with their whole hearts through good days and bad, and that love never goes away, even when you are angry.
  2. Failing is part of growing and learning. It is ok to fail, don’t be embarrassed it is part of the journey and will undoubtedly make you stronger.
  3. Acceptance of others, no matter their size, color, or abilities.

What are your greatest over fifty accomplishments?

Donna’s greatest over fifty accomplishments is starting a company that has created a new category in the wellness market, learning to garden, and being named as one of Madison’s 10 Most Influential People award.  

You are wise, you have experience, you know your worth, and you speak your mind- What do you love most about being over 50?

Donna has learned to listen with the intent of learning something new every day.  She is okay with not being all things to all people, and I look at success and failure from a different perspective.

Angelica Griffith

How would you describe yourself in three words?

Angelica describes herself as loyal, authentic, and transparent.

If you could champion one cause, what would it be?

The cause that Angelica would like to champion is to help underprivileged children reach their fullest potential.

What lessons have you learned that you would like to pass on to your children?

The lessons that Angelica has learned that she would like to pass on to her children is: Do not hesitate to take the appropriate steps to fulfill your dreams.  Even if you think you will mess things up… do it anyway… because if you don’t quit… you will definitely succeed!! Fear of failure is the only thing that hinders us from fulfilling our dreams in life. 

What are your greatest over fifty accomplishments?

Angelica’s greatest over 50 accomplishments are…

  1. Being a Single Mom and sacrificing my comforts so that my two teenage children can fulfill their dreams.
  2. Portraying an example of God’s unconditional love here on earth.

You are wise, you have experience, you know your worth, and you speak your mind- What do you love most about being over 50?

Angelica loves that she is still in great physical shape and looks like I’m 10 years younger than she is!!!

Gardenuity

Recent Posts

Plants and The Planet: 5 Ways to be a Superhero of our Planet on Earth Day

Earth Day is April 22, and we should all be active Superheroes of our planet,… Read More

3 days ago

6 Ways Gardening with your kids contributes to their overall wellbeing

Gardening with kids provides a holistic approach to physical health and well-being by incorporating physical… Read More

4 days ago

HOW TO PLANT AND CARE FOR YOUR PATIO TOMATOES

The most popular fruit of the season grows best with full sun and well-nourished soil.… Read More

2 weeks ago

A Nutritionist’s Advice: 6 Ways to Increase Your Water Intake

Staying hydrated is an essential component of maintaining optimal health and well-being. The human body… Read More

3 weeks ago

7 Ways to Enjoy Your Spring Herb Harvest

Herb infused cocktails, bouquets of fresh herbs, or updated patio décor – whatever your vibe… Read More

3 weeks ago

Gardenuity Staffers Pick Their Favorite Garden of the Spring Season

April’s arrival brings a fresh tempo. Winter will soon be firmly behind us and the… Read More

3 weeks ago