By TMoM Team Member Rachel Hoeing
I think I say this every month when it comes time to run our “Moms on the Move” feature, but I am honestly amazed at the women in our community who are constantly giving and doing for others. These women have hearts of gold and must run on Duracell batteries!
Today we feature three wonderful moms in the Triad who are making their dreams come true. Meet Christie Dalton, Wendy Harper, and Wendy Hayton …
A Rockingham county native, Christie is a busy wife and mother to two handsome boys, ages 10 and 13. A licensed reading specialist and National Board Certified teacher, she currently teaches second graders in a literacy-focused inclusion classroom in Bethany. She is passionate about teaching children with learning difficulties, especially students with ADHD. As a mother of two ADHD boys herself, she mentors other moms who need help navigating the challenges that behavior disorders present in the school setting. In the fall, she will be leading a support group for families of children with ADHD.
Outside of the classroom, Christie is a mentor to two young at-risk students. She and her husband Jason also volunteer their time for many worthy causes around their community. Her latest endeavor is coordinating the Go Far running club for K-2 students at her school. Christie says, “Go Far is new to our school this year, and I have fallen in love with this amazing program! This exciting, kid-friendly curriculum focuses on getting kids active, making healthy eating choices, setting goals, and building character while training for a 5K or one-mile fun run. Our entire community has embraced this club, and we currently have over 150 students, faculty, and parents participating! We are looking forward to race day on April 26 at Reidsville High School!”
Known throughout her community for her servant’s heart, Christie’s favorite volunteer experience was a few years ago when she and members of her Eden church, Osborne Baptist, traveled to Malawi, Africa, to work with AIDS orphans. “That trip changed my life forever,” she says. “It affected me more than words can ever describe. I look forward to the day when we can travel back to Malawi as a family for an extended period of time.”
Wendy has blogged for us before about how adoption was never part of her plan, but has been her biggest blessing. Wendy says, “The adoption of my children has given me more joy than I could ever imagine, but it has also given me a gift that I never anticipated. I have been given the gift of connecting with their home country, Ethiopia.”
As a child of the fabulous 80’s, Wendy says her vision of Ethiopia could be found in “We Are the World” videos. In other words, it was bleak, brown, and desolate. Imagine her surprise then when she first arrived in Ethiopia to find it vibrant, beautiful, and filled with amazing people who had such a sense of joy about them. Wendy found herself falling in love not just with her children, but with their birthplace.
In 2012, she took a solo journey back to Ethiopia and joined the team at WEEMA International. WEEMA started with a mission to bring clean water to her kids’ hometown. With water available, Ethiopian women and children can then spend their time doing other things – like going to school, rather than worrying about securing clean water! (As much as we have complained about schools being closed this year, can you imagine if going to school was not even an option?) WEEMA’s current HPL project is a sort of bookmobile on horse! Education, along with water, healthcare and economic initiatives have become the cornerstones of WEEMA work.
Wendy is thrilled to give back to the Ethiopian community that has given her so much, and is grateful to the Triad community that supported her efforts – from sponsoring her in races to playing dodgeball. (She hopes this will be an annual tournament to benefit WEEMA.) Wendy says, “None of this was part of my plan. Adoption was not part of my plan. Dodgeball in my 40’s? I guarantee you that was not part of my plan! But always my biggest blessing.”
Wendy grew up & went to high school in Greensboro, spent hours at Skateland North trying to be a professional roller figure skater, and went to college at UNCG. When she realized her dreams of roller skating professionally were never going to happen, she decided to become a writer. Then, ballroom dancing caught her fancy, and she taught for Fred Astaire Dance Studios for ten years. She traveled all over teaching dance, but her heart was always here in Greensboro, so she eventually settled back here with her husband at the time, and her three kids.
Dancing became harder and harder with three little children underfoot, so she became a stay-at-home mom for a long while, until the children were all three off to school. When she went through a divorce, she was faced with a tough choice, and she had to go back to work. Wendy had an uncle who ran a cake shop, and he had taught her how to make all sorts of delicious treats, and so with no money, three kids in tow, and a tremendous amount of hope for the future, she decided to start her own business. If she was going to start all over, why not start ALL over?
This is how Chocolate Pops was born. For six years, she made chocolate lollipops and gift baskets, delivered them all over town while the kids were in school, and set up booths at craft shows when and where ever she could. Five years ago, the store opened, and she has continued to grow the business and her family, as she got remarried. Now, with five children, a blog she writes about finding the magic in every day, and the chocolate shop, she has also finally written the book she always wanted to write. Race Records, a novel based on events in her own life and her family, was published in the fall of last year. Last week, she had her first book reading/signing at Barnes and Noble, and the best part? Friends from high school, who remember her as that pig-tailed roller skating queen were there, celebrating with her. As Wendy says, “No matter how far you travel, whatever dreams you accomplish, there’s nothing like living in your hometown.”
Do you know a local mom who should be featured on our site? Email Rachel@triadmomsonmain.com!
*Photo credit for Wendy’ Harper’s image: Abigail Seymour Photography