The best advice I ever received was from my mother. She told me that I could do anything I put my mind to and if someone comes along and tells me that I can’t, that’s even more reason to do it.
(Editor’s Note: The following narrative is in Sheila’s own words.)
I began my career as a corrections officer in 1987. While serving 25 years for the County of Westchester in New York, I worked directly with men and women who found themselves temporary residents of the Department of Corrections. I never called them inmates or criminals. While staying within the scope of my duties as an officer I did my best to give hope to the men and women who were placed in my care when it felt like there was no hope. After 14 years of service, I fell in love with Maui while on vacation and I decided to leave my job and venture out to discover new possibilities. Soon, I became a licensed massage therapist.
After five years of living in paradise, I received a call that no child wants to hear. My dad was ill and my mom needed help. So, I returned to New York and became a primary caregiver for both parents. My dad lost both his legs and during his trauma, my mom developed Alzheimer’s. Fortunately, I was able to be reinstated as an officer with the Department of Corrections and despite all my responsibilities I still found time to date.
I was blessed to find the love of my life, Monica. A woman after my own heart, she worked with youth at Hudson Pride in New Jersey where I was a volunteer and would make donations and provide sponsorships for her women’s empowerment programs. Between my jail time, elderly care and romancing my love I don’t recall much time for seep, but we created a different kind of paradise during a difficult time. We all managed to keep the love and laughter going.
I created a studio in our home so Monica could continue empowering women with her What Makes You Feel Beautiful program and my dad gained another daughter. My mom received so much joy and stimulation from socializing with everyone who came through our home. I made sure my mom and dad got the best care through the Lanza Center and United Hebrew Institute.
Time passed. Too quickly. My parents passed away less than a year apart. I ended my corrections career again and moved my family to Maui. We bought a little farm to continue empowering women from Maui as well. What Makes You Feel Beautiful continues to evolve but one thing has remained consistent: the ability to encourage one another one story at a time of encouragement, perseverance and self-love.