Allison Zent Edwards
Who are you?
I moved to Cincinnati from Chicago in 1984 for what was supposed to be a two year job assignment and the Tristate has been my home ever since. I enjoyed a successful career in textile sales for the next 15 years and then through a remarkable set of circumstances found myself in graduate school studying to be a Montessori teacher. Having struggled with learning disabilities as a child, I was drawn to the third graders I met through a volunteer tutoring program who despite their best efforts had difficulty reading. I wrote about my experiences with them in a women’s writing group I had joined and received the courage to leave my job and answer what was clearly a new calling. I had the privilege of being a 6-9 teacher at Sands Montessori, one of Cincinnati Public’s magnet schools, for 15 amazing years.
I retired earlier than planned to be a caregiver to my husband and mother who both had Alzheimer’s. Seven years into their disease, as much as I regretted leaving a career I loved, I wanted to focus on making the very best of whatever time I had left with them. Fortunately, we were blessed with three more years together. That was without a doubt the hardest, but most rewarding decade of my life.
At no point did I ever imagine I could fall in love again, let alone choose to remarry. But once again, life proved to be full of miraculous and mysterious surprises. I met a wonderful man who had lost his beloved wife to frontal lobe dementia and we took tremendous comfort in our shared experiences. We fell very much in love and married in June 2018.
Things have changed so dramatically in the last few years; I am still discovering who I am in retirement, being a newlywed and now living in northern Kentucky. I trust if I keep saying yes to those things I am called to do and be, I will continue to find great joy, meaning and purpose. Certainly, that has proven to be the case throughout my life. In addition to supporting the Alzheimer’s Association, during the past year I have become involved with All In Cincinnati, Racial Equity Matters and leading a weekly Twelve Step Study for women in recovery at the Madison Indiana Correctional Facility. I cherish spending time outdoors and exploring new places near and far, as well as taking classes, going to lectures, concerts, plays and movies – all that feed my curiosity and sense of wonder about the world.
What excites you about being an Impact 100 Member?
What excites me most about being a member of Impact 100 is the opportunity to support the extraordinary network of nonprofit organizations throughout the Tristate and the remarkable services they provide our community. I am currently serving on the Education Focus Area Committee and am inspired by all I am learning from and about the women I’ve met in the process.
Could you provide a brief description of your favorite Impact 100 moment, if you have one?
My favorite Impact 100 moment was meeting Kathy Thornton walking out of church one Sunday morning last winter, large bags in hand, full of sheets we were both taking home to wash for Interfaith Hospitality Network. During the course of our conversation, Kathy told me about the work of Impact 100 and the laundromat it had awarded a grant to the previous year and I thought – not only had the recipients’ prayers been answered, but so were mine – right there in that very moment. Without a doubt I knew I wanted to be part of Impact 100.
What tips do you have to connect with other women/community during our stay at home order?
It was easy for me to retreat into my own little world with gratitude for the comfort of my home, the company of my newly retired husband, our three children and the pleasure of taking daily walks with our dogs. But it didn’t take long for me to grow deeply disturbed by the contrast of my good fortune and those who were working on the frontline – many who had no choice and were risking their lives being paid minimum wage simply to pay their bills and put food on the table. I needed to find ways to help support them. I’m immensely grateful that by connecting with other women via texts, phone calls, emails and online meetings I’ve found ways to be of service.