The Backbone of Our Community (Karolina Niejadlik)

Women rock! I mean, men rock too, and I can fully appreciate what great men contribute to society, in fostering relationships in our community. But, being a woman myself, I know it is within our nature to nurture. That is why I firmly believe when women are beaten down, physically or emotionally, it’s not just the woman that suffers, it’s the whole community. It is those women who are, in most cases, providing care to the next generation of sons and daughters that will one day be taking care of us in old age.

This idea of our own inherent awesomeness has been with me for a while. In fact, it started from an early age when I would sit down with my grandma and listen to her tell me life stories from her time in postwar communist Poland. During that time, food was scarce, jobs were hard to come by, and people were struggling. On top of it all, my grandma was living with my biological grandpa, an alcoholic who would squander any money they would have on his drinking habit, a habit that caused altercations and tension in an already volatile situation. I remember hearing this story more than once and thinking of my grandma as quite the amazing lady, as she told me of her struggle and determination to live a better life. It was on a cold and snowy day that she wrapped up my one year old dad in a blanket, placed him in a small laundry basket and decided to leave her home. Walking to her girlfriend’s house through the dark forest that separated them, she left the life she knew for another. In those days, women didn’t leave their men, and they certainly didn’t have children to take care for on their own. During that time, my grandma took care of my dad on her own, enduring persecution and the shame of having a child without a father. It wasn’t easy and at times my dad would carry the burden of being teased in school for being a bastard.

Around the time my father was six, my grandma met my grandpa and that is when things started to get better. When she tells me this story, she has always looked me straight in the eye and said, “Karolina, it doesn’t matter how good looking a man is, how much money he has, what kind of possessions he owns, if he doesn’t treat you right, nothing else matters.” It was at that point that I realized what amazing people my grandparents are. My grandpa accepted my grandma for who she was, fully and wholeheartedly, taking my dad in as his own and raising him up to be the kind, caring man he is today. My grandma had the courage to leave a life of illusioned security to face obstacles and ultimately provide a better life for my dad.

My grandma’s life is what inspires me and makes me realize the potential we all have within us if we step out of our comfort zone and take the first step to change. Anytime I’ve thought of this story, I think, if my grandma lived through it, there must be others that may be living through similar situations as well. Over the years I’ve thought to myself, how do I give back, not just by giving money, but by getting involved. This thought kept on nagging at me, so when I started my own business, Mobile Registered Massage, it dawned on me that with being mobile I have the advantage of offering registered massage therapy treatments in the comfort and security of one’s own surroundings. With my grandma in mind, I thought of the women in our community in similar situations, at the beginning of their journey to a better life. That is when I contacted Nova Vita women’s shelter and inquired about offering my mobile massage services to help these wonderful ladies. I knew these ladies, who’ve been through so much emotionally, and at times, physically, would surely benefit from a little relaxation treatment. By providing a brief moment of refuge, with massage therapy, I felt I could introduce positive human contact, which may have been missing in their previous lives. I wanted these ladies to feel cared for and valued as the strong determined people they are. To show that there are people in the community that care about their well being, who truly believe they are the backbone in our community.

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