The dictionary defines an "unsung hero" as a person who is making a substantive, yet unrecognized contribution; a person whose bravery is unknown or unacknowledged.
The Sacramento region is full of unsung heroes. They are going about their everyday lives: caring for others, overcoming hardships, working toward a dream. They aren't in the spotlight, but their stories are inspiring and they deserve recognition. I want to put the spotlight on them - the unsung heroes of the 6th Senate District.
Every month I will highlight one such hero in our region and share their story. You know that saying, "be kind to everyone you meet because you never know what battles people are fighting"? Through this effort, I hope to learn more about those battles and introduce you to the unsung heroes in our community making a tremendous difference.
Dr. Richard Pan
State Senate, 6th District
P.S. If you know an unsung hero that should be in the spotlight, let me know at Senator.Pan@senate.ca.gov.
Senate District 6 Unsung Hero
Lynda Nicole Williams
Tell us a little about yourself
I live in the Arden-Arcade part of Sacramento. I am a single mom (again) since December of last year. There is no "other parent" as our lives took a turn and we escaped a violent situation and found some protection with a restraining order. My son, Macen is 5 years old and my granddaughter, Chloe is 9. I take care of both of these beautiful babies on my own and they make my heart very happy. Unfortunately, I have a lifelong disability called degenerative bone disease that has led to four spinal fusion surgeries, and I am scheduled for a fifth at the end of the month. But I don't let that get in the way of doing whatever I can in my community.
"I try to be a model for other people; especially
for parents who might not feel like they 'fit-in'
How are you making a difference in your community?
I consider my primary job to be a loving and responsible parent. And, while I have physical limitations, there are periods when I can be exceptionally productive. I hold several positions in the San Juan Unified School District, including Chair of the Head Start Preschool Policy Committee. I am also a member of the Sacramento Employment Training Association and the Parent-Teacher Association where my kids go to school. I also work with Dr. Pan on the Sacramento County Medi-Cal Dental Advisory Committee where we are trying hard to get children access to much needed dental care.
I try to take what I learn at one board to help the next association meeting I go to. For example, I sit with the guy who just got out of jail at a Head Start event and then take what I learned from him to the Medi-Cal Dental Advisory Committee so they can take it into consideration when creating programs or streamlining existing procedures.
All my life I've stayed busy in the community. I was born with the desire to always want to do things for others. My parents instilled that in me. I especially feel purposeful holding positions that encompass education, healthy families and parent advocacy. I have a gift of being very approachable and listening to others, so, I use it.
Why is this work important to you?
I believe I'm making a difference in the community by first showing up. And then, I do whatever I can, the best I can. I try to be a model for other people; especially for parents who might not feel like they "fit in" to society. When people see me, they think one of two things: 1) "Wow, she's sure to have some serious problems and I'm not sure if I want someone like her to be a part of my life." Or 2) "Oh, I bet she's just like me and probably knows all of the same folks I do. I wonder if she knows that "Ice" just got out of prison and is back out on the streets. I wonder if she's still got her kids?"
So I don't "fit" with the folks in the boardroom (or so I thought), and I sure don't fit with people who are using drugs and in and out of prison. My goal is to relate to group number two and show them they can be so much more and help them build relationships with those in group number one.
My very favorite part of this cycle is watching the results it all has on children. Parents become more "present" and happy and I believe their confidence grows. I know mine did.
What accomplishment are you most proud of?
I'm proud of all my involvement and the many boards I have been elected to. I carry out each the best I possibly can with my circumstances.
And I'm proud of the work I've done to get an education. I have an associate of arts degree in Human Services and I'm certified in chemical dependency and accounting. Also, I only need one foreign language class and one statistics class to get my bachelor of arts in Sociology. And I have two awards of appreciation from the Sacramento County for internships I completed with the Adult and Juvenile Probation and Child Protective Services.
But I am most proud that you could approach my children and ask them anything about our family at home and their answer would make me proud. I'm proud of what I CAN offer as a parent.
What is your struggle?
I want to do more so that people would see me in a positive light. My desire to want to do more and more and more makes me tired and I don't take as much time to myself to heal my body. I'm afraid of judgment.
If there is one problem in our community that you wish you could fix, what would it be?
The constant violence that we have come to see and expect makes me scared. I recently spoke to a law enforcement officer and he told me he was retiring. I asked him if he would miss his job and that rush knowing everything he does throughout the day is making a difference in the community. He told me, "No, it's too dangerous. People are out here shooting at anything these days and I don't see it getting any better." I always seem to be anxious about the safety of my kids.
How do you decompress?
Absolute quiet in my home with nothing on my calendar or worries about something I have to get done, Turner Classic Movies, or uninterrupted reading for pleasure for the whole day.