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ONE ON ONE | Melinda Holsopple Helping people is balancing act for Way Station director



Published: Mon, August 26, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



You've been at The Way Station about a year now. So, how's it going?

It's exciting. I love being here.

What makes it so exciting?

There are miracles here every day. I just stand back and watch God at work.

Can you give some examples?

We have a family of six come in and they need groceries. We don't have any meat available, and about that time someone comes in the back door and gives us enough meat to fill a freezer.

And that kind of thing happens all the time?

Yes, in many different ways. Donations will come in just when they are needed. Someone will call for help, and a person who comes in will be the right one for the job.

So you could say The Way Station is a place where people and resources come together?

Yes. And one of the most amazing things is that many of the people who come here for help end up working here.

So after people come here for help, to get food or clothes, job training or tutoring, then they come back here and work?

Some do. Some work here until they are hired by someone else. Others stay, and as their skills improve they grow into other jobs.

That has to be rewarding to watch people progress that way.

There are so many stories here. I am humbled by the people around me. These are people who beat the odds. I look at their circumstances and am amazed. I have to pause and ask myself how I would react in their situation. When it comes right down to it, when the rubber meets the road, would my car be in the same lane?

It seems like every time I talk to someone at The Way Station, there is more and more activity. What's going on here?

Well, as I said, miracles -- every day. People are learning job skills and they are working now with our business, River Rock Candles. That product is becoming more and more known, from trade shows, and just word of mouth.

How's the golf club business going?

We're starting to see that come together as well. That entire business was given to us. The man who gave it has also been very gracious -- and patient -- in giving us his time to show us how to operate it.

You're also in the used car business?

That's part of our Welfare to Work programs. People donate used cars to us, and we make sure they are in good working order. Then if people who are in our Welfare to Work programs don't have a car to get back and forth to work, they can buy one of our donated ones.

You talked earlier about having good role models who helped you develop your passion to help people. Who would you say has had the most influence on your life?

My grandmother. The longer she is gone the more and more I realize what a godly woman she was. I think of her, and I come to work each day and my hope and prayer is that I will be receptive to God and be a model of compassion to everyone who comes in The Way Station door.

So tell me more about your family. You have six children? I'll bet there's never a dull moment in your house.

They can be a challenge at times, but they're a lot of fun, too. They're yours, mine and ours. There's Nathan, Donna, Seth, Katie, Kristen and Luke. They're 16, 13, 12, 10, 8 and 3. For any ladies out their looking for adventure, I say wait until you're older and then have a baby! I'm 39 now, and Luke is 3.

Oh, so you've recently survived the "terrible twos"?

Forget the terrible twos. That really isn't a problem. Now 12, that's another matter. My theory is 12 lasts from about 10 to 14. You have these wonderful children and then one day they decide you are an idiot.

You have your career and your family, and you are still working on a degree?

I'm working on my doctorate in sociology and teach nonprofit development at KSU.

So how do you handle everything?

You find time for the things that you make a priority in your life. I love my career, but I am also trying hard to be a decent mom. We also have a wonderful lady at our house -- Miss Mary, the nanny -- she is wonderful and everyone has grown to love her. Best of all she lets Gary and I keep our kids on the weekends.




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