What a week of extraordinary Triad moms! We are humbled by the tenacity, generosity, courage and brilliance of each and every mom we profiled. All of you make all of us want to be better moms, better wives, better friends, and better citizens. And to round out this week, today we present our sixth and final mom in this series: Janelle Robinson.
Janelle’s story begins with a challenge that could easily affect anyone of us at any given time, especially in today’s economy. Yet, Janelle stayed focused on the things that truly mattered in her life. Doing so helped Janelle and her family pull through their crisis, and amazingly enough, create two positive, and life-changing, pursuits for Janelle.
Janelle and her husband, Scott, have been married 10 years and they have two children: Reese, 6, and Nicholas, 3. In October of 2007, Scott was laid off from his VP position with a company he had been with for over 10 years. Janelle and Scott immediately put their home on the market – and despite Scott taking odd jobs and then finally landing a new job (with 30% less income) – they began having difficulties paying their monthly mortgage in full.
“Everything else was falling behind because we were trying to make the whole mortgage payment! After having the house on the market for one year, the bank was going to foreclose on it. I just kept telling myself, they can take my house but they can’t take our health or love. We actually felt blessed to have each other in the midst of our financial struggles. A house is only a building. We still have everything we could want in this life, according to us,” Janelle said.
Meanwhile, as her situation was spiraling out of control , Janelle found the time and energy to put her troubles at bay so she could focus on the needs of others.
After watching a YouTube video about Team Hoyt, Janelle became inspired to do something similar. She posted an announcement on Facebook saying she was starting “Miles for Smiles” – an athletic ride-along for children with disabilities who would not normally be able to experience outdoor endurance events such as marathons, triathlons and other road races – and that she wanted to recruit runners and children with special needs to participate. Within days she heard from a reporter at the News and Record, Trish from Seek the Triad (whose son Drake has special needs), and WFMY News 2, which featured this story on Miles for Smiles. Janelle was dubbed a “hometown hero” for organizing her cause.
“It took off from there. We have done five races. Each one had 10-15 kids. I put two runners with each child so if there is an emergency, or if a runner cannot finish the race, then the other runner takes over. Runners keep their cell phones on them while running. We learn about the disabilities for each child ahead of time. The parents are often nervous that we are heading out on a three-mile run with their child, but we receive nothing but amazing feedback from them! Some have even said it to be the best day of their child’s life.”
Then as luck would have it, less than three hours before her house was to be auctioned off on the courthouse steps, it sold! Today, Janelle and her family are renting a house half the size and hope to be debt free in the next couple months.
Shortly after the sale, Janelle, a stay-at-home mom, took on another venture and launched her own business. She foundedSodderbug , a web-based custom photo charm business. This home-based business has become a success and a blessing (it’s helped pay off some of their debt!). Sodderbug is currently carried locally by Total Bliss in Summerfield, Josie’s Boutique in Oak Ridge, and Glamour and More in Kernersville. The pieces are also offered by three local photographers. On top of this, Janelle channels her talent into a craft blog where she teaches others how to turn junk into cool things, mainly decorations for the home.
“It took a long time to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but I see now that we are better off where we are now. I hope I never have another credit card. We surely do not do a perfect job at managing money, but are learning and doing better every day.”
Just sharing this story with us today took courage, and for that we thank you Janelle. You are an everyday hero and we admire your resolve. Peace and prosperity to you in 2011!