Chapter 15. From the Homestead to the Office: Promoting Enthusiasm

Sometimes life orchestrates a seemingly fateful intersection with individuals whose enthusiasm can nearly blind us to the realities of their lives. Sometimes their gleaming smiles fool us, leaving us to wonder if their enthusiasm emanates from a carefully suspended mask—or if it truly radiates from a heart overflowing.

When I met Kelli McVay several years ago, I was not fooled. I knew without a doubt that her enthusiasm—that magical, sparkling "something"—was indeed an authentic outpouring of joy.

I would come to find out later that Kelli was a single mother of two struggling to free herself from the trappings of an unsafe relationship. While juggling tedious divorce proceedings and the never-ending demands of motherhood, Kelli was also taking college classes. Determined to complete her teaching degree, she was modeling strength and perseverance to her children. And as if that wasn't enough, she worked part-time with Longaberger in our Entertainment and Events Department at the Homestead.

Charged with choreographing dancers, hiring freeze models for the sidewalks, and managing entertainers, Kelli was also chiefly responsible for creating and executing all shows at the Homestead. Drawing on her past experience teaching dance classes, Kelli threw herself into her work, loving every moment. But what she loved even more was encouraging and supporting her team members—one of whom was my daughter, high school sophomore Claire ...

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