December 01, 2022
We all carry a light inside of us. Some people seem to have a constant glow while others flicker brightly here or there depending on what they’re doing or who they’re with. But for another select group, the light they embody is closer to a sunrise, illuminating and embracing everything and everyone it touches. Do you think that’s a bit heavy-handed or just a writer’s poetic exaggeration? Well, that’s because you haven’t met this issue’s featured Sterling Silver Club member, Tami, yet. But that’s about to change…
This Little Light of Mine
As an infant, Tami’s adoptive parents were drawn to her light, even though the couple had come to an orphanage in Washington state hoping to find an older child to add to their family. “My parents always said that after seeing and holding me, they had to take me home,” Tami remembers and then smiles. “They also liked to tell the story of how they sold their prize baby bull, Johnny Apollo, to pay my adoption fees!” Tami has fond memories of making mud pies and climbing trees as a child and feels privileged to have been raised by older parents. “They both lived through the Great Depression and my dad proudly served in the U.S. Navy in World War ll,” says Tami. “I certainly attribute learning to love and give unconditionally through their humble ways. I had the honor of taking care of them both for about 10 years before their passing. When asked who my heroes are, though I have several, they are at the top of that list for sure.” Today, Tami is married to her high school sweetheart, Richard. They’ve been together for 43 years and have five children – and 10 grandchildren – of their own.
Helping Others Through Darkness
Tami started a highway construction business with her family in 2000, but focused 18 years of her career around her love of teaching, with seven years spent as Vice Principal of Academics at Reno Christian Academy. One of her greatest joys during that time was implementing Prime Time, a program that set aside special time for students who had experienced recent traumatic events. “I used puppets, sewing, crafts – any activity the students would respond to,” explains Tami. “But mostly, I listened.” And when one of her students shared, “I just want someone to listen to me for an hour today” – that’s what she did. “We sat on the sidewalk and ate Fudgsicles and giggled at the silliest things,” Tami recalls with some emotion. “And when we both left smiling, I was reminded that the most beautiful moments are when we are simply present with an open heart.”
Though still working full-time at the construction company, Tami went back to school – at the age of 59 – to prepare for another career, closer to her heart. “I woke up on a very cold, January morning and decided I wanted to finish my life being able to live out what my passion is – serving others,” explains Tami. “So far, I have been the oldest student in every class. But I’m always excited to learn from my younger classmates and share the wisdom that someone my age naturally acquires.”Through Grand Canyon University, she is earning a degree in science of human behavior with an emphasis in trauma and hopes to counsel first responders to help them process the traumatic events they encounter on the job.“They (first responders) are in every way our unsung heroes!” says Tami. “And my family is so incredibly supportive. My grandchildren always ask how much longer before they can come to my graduation, which makes me smile. And makes me so determined to finish well.”
Soup, Family & Faith
Tami’s empathy for others has a culinary counterpart – she loves making and sharing soup and estimates that one of her go-to pots has likely been in a hundred different homes, helping to comfort and warm those inside. “I do LOVE making soup for others,” Tami smiles. And when asked what brings her comfort and joy in her own life, her smile brightens even more. “I love sitting outside with my husband and black lab, Lucy,” she begins. “My husband built a large garden this year and watching the fruits of his incredible labor has been amazing. We also enjoy our 17 chickens and three sheep. I love spending time with all of our adult children and herding the sheep and collecting warm eggs with my grandchildren.” “I also love attending church; the music and challenging and inspirational messages strengthen me daily,” Tami adds. “I enjoy walking with friends at the park year-round too – and love to play basketball, soccer, football, have tea parties, do art projects and read books with my grandchildren anytime.”
From Club to Community & Beyond
So what does someone who is known for being on the giving side of things get out of being a member in the Sterling Silver Club? “I love reading the articles and recipes and getting invites for different exercise classes,” starts Tami. “And the resources the club offers are great! You get a discount at the Renown gift shop and there are savings at local restaurants for members to enjoy.” “But what’s truly special to me,” she continues, “is that the club creates a community. During COVID, we realized more than ever that we need each other, we were created for community and friendships – and too many seniors feel alone. But the Sterling Silver Club reaches out and brings people together so we can be connected and better care for ourselves and each other. That’s a wonderful benefit.” And if Tami could ask anything of the world, we wondered, what would she ask? “I would ask everyone to consider what it would look like if we all stopped and chose to serve others several times a day with no strings attached,” she says thoughtfully. “Putting someone else’s needs before our own… what an example and legacy we would leave for our children and grandchildren.”We hope the world is listening.
The Sterling Silver Club thanks Tami for sharing her story with our members and shining a light on how showing care and compassion to others can help us all live our best lives.
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