When I look at my life, where I am, what I am doing and how I got here, I realize that I am turely a work in progress. In line with that realization I was asked What Women has influence your life the most?
So for the woman that have influence me the most I choose these ladies.
- For her ability to see the best in people: Lita Alger, my mom
- For her compassion/charity/kindness/faith strength/courage: Mother Teresa
- For her gumption: Rosa Parks
- For her example of unwavering faith, strength and beauty: Gaylene Kennington
- For her ability to make me laugh and stop me from crying: Kristen Cunningham
- For her ability to champion people with special needs: Eunice Shriver
Lastly I choose my grandmother, Joyce M Alger. For her example, her friendship, and her ability to make me feel important.
My grandmother was kick ass. And not kick ass in the way most grandmothers are. She was a force to be reckoned with.
My Grandmother grew up in Contra Costa County, living in Antioch and Walnut Creek, Ca. She graduated from the academically exclusive Acalanes High School. Upon graduating she received a full scholarship and her degree from Merritt Hospital School of Nursing in Oakland, CA. In a time when education for women wasn’t a huge priority she graduated as class valedictorian in the spring of 1955.
My Grandma was a bold woman. She met a fortune teller who told her that her future was with a Red headed, left handed carpenter. Little did she know that when she agreed to join her roommate on Valentine Day blind date that she would be meeting her future husband, Merrial H Alger. His nickname was RED and he fit the description perfectly (I have the cedar chest to prove it).
My grandparents married and as newlyweds lived in San Francisco where they started a family. She went into labor with her first son, my Uncle Glenn on the eve of the presidential election in 1956. On her way to the hospital, she insisted on stopping to cast her vote. Reportedly for Eisenhower.
My grandmother had four sons and a daughter. Her home was full. Money was tight and she was a working mother. Yet their home always had room for family. Growing up my father vividly remembers how there was always room for one more, with no questions asked. My grandma helped raise nieces, nephews and foster children. She love these children as her own. She provided for them as her own. She counseled them as her own.
She counseled nephews, nieces and neighbors, just as she did her own children, to believe they could accomplish anything if they worked hard and believed in themselves. Soon she found herself surrounded by neighborhood teens looking for counsel, support, and encouragement. She gave great advice. She was honest. She let you know how important you were, how strong you were and then kicked you in the butt to get you going.
My grandmother took her first position in long-term care by delivering training to nursing assistants at a convalescent home in San Mateo, CA. That experience started what would become a life long passion of caring for the elderly. She joined a small pharmacy, where she used her expertise to implement long-term care training at convalescent homes, first locally, then statewide and eventually expanding the business to Oregon, Minnesota and Georgia.
Joyce Alger was a career woman before they invented the term. Balancing work and the demands of a growing family might be challenging for some, but not for her. She simply brought her kids to work and had them washing wheelchairs or packing pills after school (my father later followed in her footsteps, working his entire career in long term care).
She gained national notoriety when she was asked to serve on the White house committee reviewing long-term care regulations during the Regan Administration.
In 1989 my grandmother founded Alger Health Services and continued to serve the long term care industry. Just as she counseled her children, she mentored her co-workers and encouraged them to pursue their careers, reminding them that they too could accomplish anything if they simply worked hard and believed in themselves. Alger Health Services became the largest independently owned pharmacy in the state of California, and was eventually acquired Capstone Pharmacy. The pharmacy she built. The pharmacy she created. What a thrill to see your hard work pay off.
In 1995, my grandmothers work was acknowledged nationally when she was granted Honorary Fellow status by the American Heath Care association in recognition of her lifetime devotion and service to the elderly (I got a trip to Disney World to see her accept her award).
While her accomplishments are many, she was also a loving and kind grandmother. She loved to spend time with her grand children.
She would often times have us over for sleepovers- the best part, if we counted her change we could keep it.
She wasn’t known for her cooking(EXCEPT for toast and eggs) but she WOULD let us pick whatever we wanted for dinner, and then driver all over to several different places to get it.
She might not have been warm and fuzzy (like tons of hugs and kisses, and pet names) but she did give amazing presents. Most of all she made you feel like you could do anything. She empowered you, she challenged you, she supported you.
She encouraged me to get an education.When I became the first college graduate in my family, I was sad she wasn’t around to see me cross the stage. She challenged me to serve, and I have been unbelievably blessed because of these opportunities. She showed me how to work hard, and I have seen much success in personal life and employment because of her example. Most of all she taught me it was ok to be me. ME. Celina. The girl with the crazy curly hair, the goofy laugh and the big butt. Because she believe in me, I believe in myself. That is a gift worth more than gold.