A big part of the Kallie Shoes brand is to empower other women through social retail. During the 16 months our store has been in business; we've met great women with remarkable stories. Kallie Shoes is proud and thrilled to publish, our very first edition of Women of Strength. Every 1st Monday of the month, we will publish a story of a woman of strength. It is our sincere hope that you enjoy these stories of resiliency, heroism, love, dedication, sacrifice, and strength. She is a remarkable woman with a remarkable strength, and this is her story...
Juanita is originally from the Hopi Reservation in Northern Arizona. She's currently an active duty Marine serving in San Diego, California.
- What are some of the biggest challenges growing up that shaped your life as an adult?
"Some of the biggest challenges that shaped my life growing up were... first my mother dying. She was a single parent and was everything for my sister and I. She passed away when I was 8 years old, she was 32 years old. I was forced to grow up immediately and struggled to understand emotions that many people don't experience until adulthood. This experience helped to define my independence, from a very young age I was alone and had to figure things out for myself."
- Who is or what the most influential people in your life?
"I grew up living in what most would consider poor or in poverty. My grandparents adopted my sister and I after my mother's death. We didn't have running water or electricity. I didn't get to experience this luxury until I was 15 years old and living in Phoenix. However, I never considered myself poor because I was always loved. I may have required "tough love" at times but it was always in my best interest. Many people believe that material things define love, but here living with my grandparents and my two uncles, we defied those thoughts and beliefs. The love was the homemade meals, the time learning to sew and crochet with my grandmother, and just sitting listening to the stories my grandfather told about our people [the Hopi]." "I moved to Phoenix for High School and found myself living with a very abusive aunt and uncle (who I shall not name). It was a new area, a new lifestyle, a new school, and new people. I was witness to my sister being severely abused. I knew it was only a matter of time before it was my turn. My sister and I were treated like second class citizens in a home that my grandparents believed would surround us with love and make our lives easier. This is where I met Deborah and Sandra. They both became very special women to me and my second mothers. Deborah and Sandra both have huge hearts and cared my myself in times when I had no one else and welcomed me into their homes when I had no where else to go. From these two women I learned that "love knows no boundaries" and "blood does not make a family." The love they showed me during times of need I only hope my children can understand and someday show to others." "I believe that everyone that I have met on my journey through life has been a major influence on me, as I would not be the person I am today without their influence whether good or bad. I know it sounds so cliche, but it is so very true. Some change you only for a fleeting moment and others change you for a lifetime."
- What motivated you to serve in the military?
"From a very early age I was motivated to serve in the military. It was never really a question of if I would or not, I knew that I was going to. My grandfather and my Uncle Roderick served in the Navy. I looked up to them with admiration. My plan was always to serve in the Navy; however, once in High School a close friend talked me into joining the Marine Corps instead. From there... well here I am."
- What's your advice for young men and women interested in serving in the military?
"My advice for young adults that would like to serve... be passionate about what you do, you are the only person that truly limits yourself. Don't let the unknown or your fears define who you are."
- What do you want your legacy to be for your children?
"What I would like my children to know... I don't see what I have as a legacy but I would love for them to understand that I made a ton of mistakes and so will they, but regardless they are always loved and life is really what they make of it. Sometimes you have to forgive yourself over and over again for doing everything wrong, but that's ok." Do you know a woman of strength? Nominate her to be featured in our blog. Send us her name, e-mail, and tell us why YOU would love to see her story featured with our community. Just e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
XX ~The Kallie Shoes team <3