How is it that an incest victim, adult child of an abusive family, and cancer survivor finds the strength and courage to overcome her past and reach out to help others through her business?
For Jo-Ann Grimwood, the answer is found in her strong Christian faith.
According to Jo-Ann her journey of faith started when she was invited to attend Sunday school which she said, “was a great blessing as it gave me an escape and gave me great hope.” She met a family who attended the church and invited her to their home over many weekends and made sure that she could attend the choir practice. Unfortunately, that church let her down and refused to marry her to an Anglican when she was 20 years old. And for the next 20 years she felt like “part of my past support contradicted the teaching I once believed!”
For 12 years she raised her children as a single parent and hoped to find a home church they could attend on Sundays, only to find more than one church rejecting her and her family. “I was looking for a place to belong,” she explained, “and receive recognition.”
When her youngest daughter was in grade 5 and her eldest daughter was taken to live with her father, without Jo-Ann’s permission. Her youngest daughter did not get the chance to say goodbye or tell her older sister that she loved her. Four years later, her daughter returned home. But in the meantime, Jo-Ann’s youngest began to exhibit behavioral issues and decided she wanted to live with her dad and ran away to be with him. She did not come back to Jo-Ann until after she had given birth to her son.
Jo-Ann’s fortune changed when she was re-married in 2002 to Scott. “I remarried the most incredibly supportive non-Christian,” she said. While Jo-Ann had always wanted to be married to a Christian, she felt that she had fallen out of favour with God.
When Mary, the lady who had taken her in on the weekends so many years ago, passed away in the summer of 2004, Jo-Ann was devastated. She wished that she had reached out to Mary before her death. She had promised to “be brave and get reconnected to her”, even though she felt that Mary would be disappointed that she had turned her back on her Christian faith. After spending 2 days in bed, grieving for the woman who had treated her so well, Scott asked her if she wanted to attend her childhood church. She agreed to and for the next 6 years, the couple continued to attend church services there.
She said, “God knew what he was doing by putting some puzzle pieces together, as in 2005 I was at stage four in my colon cancer.” Within 4 weeks, “God gifted us with several miracles”, she explained, “including a specialist surgeon offering to assist in my surgery as he was teaching in Red Deer, Alberta (a City close to the town she lives in) the same week my surgery was scheduled.”
Jo-Ann was reluctant at first to tell her pastor and church about the diagnosis. However, her husband told her that if they didn’t want to ask the church for their support, then they shouldn’t bother going there anymore. Mary’s daughter and her husband offered to sit with Scott in the hospital while Jo-Ann was in the operating room.
She added that she was also blessed to have as her hospital ‘roommate’ another Christian woman who was the first to write in her Cancer journey journal. Jo-Ann said this is one of her most treasured things and she reads this message on each anniversary of her surgery date. While she was recuperating in the hospital, she found out that her father had died in his sleep. Scott was terrified to tell her the news but he was fortunate to have her two daughters with him. At time her youngest daughter who had been very close to her grandfather and was pregnant and had not been able to share her good news with him. She vowed that day, if she had a boy she’d name him after his great-grandfather, “Vanor”. And to this day, Jo-Ann and her grandson are inseparable.
She had been in the hospital for 12 days and was feeling nervous about her test results. She was worried that they had found more cancer in the extra lymphoid that the specialist had removed.
Moments after finding out that they had indeed found that four of the extra lymphoid were cancerous, she remembers herself saying, “No!” to the chemotherapy treatment they suggested. Within seconds her eldest daughter who had over- heard the conversation between Jo-Ann and the surgeon, walked into the room and said, “Yes, you have to for your grandchild! And we’ll be here for you!”
Jo-Ann said, “God was in that room, just when I was mad and thought he had left me!”
During her recovery she realized that her daughter would have morning sickness and helped by taking her to her Doctor’s appointments, driving Vanor to and from pre-school and Kindergarten. Her youngest grandson has recently been diagnosed with Autism and Jo-Ann has often asked herself, “was this the real reason why I had cancer – to be out of the workforce and value family and grandchildren more than a second pay cheque and a bigger house?”
Jo-Ann also used the time to become a prayer warrior for a 2 ½ year old boy named Cohyn Joel Jaskela who had spent most of his life fighting for his life. And although Cohyn passed away on December 23, 2008 she still remains friends with his family.
2006 marked the start of Jo-Ann and Scott’s affiliation with Africa.
“In 2006 my husband was invited to go to South Africa with 3 new friends at church,” she explained, “Of course he instantly said No – however, I instantly told him he “Was Going“. This gave me a huge opportunity to focus on others as I committed to raise money for the mission and community around the mission in South Africa. After 3 months of hard work, one night in a very small village (an hour away from where I lived), everyone, including myself, where shocked to hear $13,249.00 was raised!!! True answer for many prayers.”
Since then, Jo-Ann and Scott have devoted their time to fundraising for the Aids mission in South Africa, Quarry Heights and a day care located across the road from the Seed of Hope mission.
While at a business women’s trade show, she saw a card tree with picture post cards on it. She wondered if it would be possible to order 1,000 picture postcards for an Aids mission, in order to raise money. What ended up happening was that Jo-Ann became involved with Send-Out cards which she says has been “a blessing from God.” She added that the business allows her to continue to minister to people around the world, and send her appreciation to the people in her life. It’s also allowed her to celebrate one more year with her family, another year getting to know her grandchildren and yet another year to work for God’s kingdom and be thankful for her nurses, surgeons and church families.
Jo-Ann said that the Thank You cards within the “Expression” category are the highest in demand. The company’s two fold mission, she explained, “is to help millions of people act on their promptings and provide a vehicle for financial freedom.” Send-Out cards founder, Kody Bateman, “has a very strong foundation of faith in his life, family and business, while he offers a positive message of hope to the world,” she said.
Jo-Ann added that each day this message is posted and shared at Send Out Cards:
When you act on a prompting you can change someone’s life. Our convenient system lets you send that birthday, anniversary or thank you card without the hassle of pen, paper, stamps, envelopes, or mailboxes. Sending a card has never been so easy! With just the click of a button, you can choose your custom card, add a personal photo, write your message and click send. We print, stuff, stamp and mail the physical card for you.
Scott is Jo-Ann’s greatest source of support and her biggest fan. He has made her business possible by supporting her financially from the start. He has backed her decisions to attend corporate conferences no matter what the cost is. He has also been her creative advisor and editor with important card campaigns as well. And Jo-Ann has trained him how to look for her target market, instead of only bragging about her business without it leading to referrals.
Jo-Ann said that she speaks to and mentors people about how to cultivate customer’s loyalty and Act on One’s promptings. Giving, she explained does not have to be overwhelming. In fact, it can be quite simple! The first step is to start with a phone call she advised! “Call your friends and family on birthdays or just because. Soon they realize their call did make a difference for two reasons, one: few people call that person to say hi, Two: often that person really needed a kind word that day.”
She advises that the next thing for people to do is to act on their promptings. A prompting occurs when someone sees an old friend, or someone gives them extra special service or makes their day and in return the individual lets that person know how special that person is to them. Then, send that person a note, a card or call them. She quoted the founder Kody Bateman who says, “A prompting is a gift; it’s a thought to reach out to someone. Promptings will guide you to your genius within. The more you act on promptings, the more promptings you will have. Life is meant to create joy!”
“To some this might not sound like ‘giving back’, however, we first need to re-connect in a real way with those around us and then we need to feel the joy and fulfillment we ourselves feel by reaching out and making a difference,” she added, “Once we all feel and understand the simple and easy actions affect others, then the door opens to charity and our community.”
Jo-Ann is also the 2011 Recipient of the Soroptimist Ruby Award. She says she knows first-and that the simple little compound actions such as spreading the awareness and gathering support can make an impact for others in a community and around the world.
“Yearly,” she said, “my husband and I come up with creative ways to reach out to those less fortunate. Once, it was just starting a pen pal program between a School in Rocky Mountain house, Alberta and the ‘After School Program’ at the Seed of Hope in South Africa,” she added, “Then one year we joined a Fire Walk event and used it as a fundraiser. Many around me, chuckle or run from me when they hear of events , as most have learned, that I believe anything and everything could be turned into adding awareness and or, funds for someone less fortunate.”
At the writing of this article, Jo-Ann was hosting two events during the International Networking Week, in order to find ways to lower the costs and donate the proceeds to her daughter’s Relay for Life team in Red Deer. She said she would add to her efforts by spreading the word and advocating for the fight against cancer.
“Now, not everyone needs to spearhead an event, a cause or charity foundation. However, I hope to inspire all to volunteer, donate or attend events in support of causes close to your heart, and close to your customer’s heart. One really does not need to feel they are specially skilled or talented to make a difference, like I have.”
“Send-Out cards allows for customers and businesses to uses their own images, art, graphics, and talent in their own site and on their cards,” she explained, “Send Out Cards added a smart feature that customers and distributors can share their designed cards to others with an I.D. number. Simplifying, time-saving and adding a positive spin on everything is always evident to anything Send Out Cards does.”
Jo-Ann explained that to order a Send Out Card, go to the site at: www.sendoutcards.com/31696, watch the e-minute video and then hit the “Send A Free Card” on the button below. She said that the founder, Kody Batemen appears and will explain how to send out a card. Once the send button is pushed, the company will print, stuff, stamp and mail a real card to the person’s mail box.
Jo-Ann Grimwood lives in Penhold Alberta with her husband Scott. She can be reached at:email@example.com
or through her website at: http://www.sendoutcards.com/31696
Jo-Ann is truly an inspiration to us all!