EXTRAORDINARY PEOPLE: Rebuilding the mommypreneur

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Balancing a job and a family is no easy task, but find the right support system, and success is sure to follow.

Barbara Downing is an honored educator. She had a stint on the “Talk of the Town” radio show as a parenting editor. She also helped lead a powerful group of mommypreneurs. Barbara is our Extraordinary Person of the Week.

“I may be almost 70 years old,” Downing said, “but I’m trying to reinvent myself.”

We caught up with Downing at a non-profit thrift shop for the Assistance League of Greater Wilmington, where she volunteers.

“This is what this group is,” she said of the organization. “The Assistance League of Greater Wilmington. I’ve, since retirement, joined. It’s just an awesome group of women who have brought their skills from their careers to make things better for the community.”

Downing has been making things better for the community for quite some time. In 1981, after years of teaching in public schools, she opened up the Tot Spot half day preschool at the YWCA in Wilmington.

“Thanks to Bessie Fay Hunt, who gave me my first opportunity,” Downing said. “I walked in, gave my idea to her, she liked it and trusted it and we shook hands and went from there.”

She sold her idea to the “Y” in 2013, but her mission of the mommypreneur, to help women combine work and family, continues to evolve.

In her blog “Parenting and Teaching Days” you’ll find some of her mommypreneur wisdom.

“You’re always going to have to have support,” Downing said. “Either a good back-up in terms of a grandmother who can back-up some days if your children are sick (or someone similar), but it’s just really hard. You need a support system.”

Nowadays she makes the non-profit work look easy.

“We couldn’t operate this shop without people like Barbara,” manager of the Thrift Shop Barbara Nolan said. “About 60 percent of our members are working in this thrift shop at some time during the month.”

So while she’s rebuilding a life of being a mommypreneur, she’s always passing along her extraordinary experience of juggling a family and business to other mommypreneurs.

Downing also is a substitute teacher.

Categories: Extraordinary People Next Door, New Hanover, News

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