Chapter 1 – Humble Beginnings (Part 1)
So how does a kid growing up on the streets of Cleveland, Ohio end up living in the woods of Virginia, often miles away from the nearest grocery store or other conveniences of a city? Well here is my story of a wonderful journey in several parts, like the stages of my life.
My early days were often spent playing in the dirt in the garden while helping grandpa. Worms are cool! My early birding skill was standing on the porch railing trying to catch the pigeons that made a nest in the eaves within reaching distance. To prove to one of my sisters my love of insects, I would catch bees in the hollow of my hands and pray they didn’t sting me. All were good starts for my career, but there were two things that truly got me pointed in the right direction; Growing up in the Catholic Church and my Dad’s foresight to find an escape from the city.
Well if you know anything about the Catholic Church you will understand why it gave me a basis for the beginning of my career and my present day position with Virginia State Parks. The Catholic Church has raffles and more raffles and when that is done, they have more raffles. These raffles had PRIZES for selling the most tickets and as a young kid in a big family of sharing; a new bike looked pretty good.
My grandparents and parents were social folks that taught me to be open and talk, just not when they were talking. Between being outgoing and the incentive to win prizes, I became quite the talker and salesman at a very young age. I consistently sold the most tickets for raffles. I wonder if my grandparents and parents were secretly sending people to buy tickets from me. Either way, I WON!
Thus, came one of the first building blocks of my career, a love of people. It helped me to develop great communication skills, able to break down barriers with most to find common ground. Although my fiancée might say different at times, but that’s another blog for another day.