We recently met with Carolyn Laquatra, a volunteer of the market and previously a volunteer for the Feeding Neighbors Program.
I am the 6 the child of 7 children (5 girls, 2 boys). To date, I am a great, great aunt to 80 nieces and nephews. I love to laugh…and dance.
At 27, my girlfriend asked me if I would like to play on a softball team. My response to any challenge is always, “sure I can do that.” Well…actually I never played a team sport in my life, never played softball, ever! After having sustained a shiner that lasted for 2 weeks, I quickly learned the ideal way to catch a fly ball: use your mitt, not your face. I also hold the record in Women’s Slow Pitch Softball Leagues in Pittsburgh: an inside the infield home run!
My working career spans multiple fields: medical, legal, non-profit, academic and finally, Entrepreneur. I was the administrator of the Rotunda, University of Virginia (a national historic landmark), international student advisor, event coordinator, and office manager.
In 1992, my husband and I moved to Charlottesville, VA; he was pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree from the U. of Virginia. I was required to find employment that provided medical benefits for us. I immediately made an appointment with the VA Employment Commission. I arrived at the appointed time armed with a resume, several letters of recommendation, attired in a business suit, briefcase in hand. An Employment Counselor indicated that she reviewed my resume and had the “perfect” position for me, working for the VA Lottery. The sound of being a state employee signaled to me “medical benefits!”
The counselor described the “perfect” position for me: “You will Dress up like a Ping Pong Ball and promote playing the VA Lottery on the Downtown Mall. Good pay, $5.00/hour.” It took a few seconds for me to recover from the shock. Whose resume did she review? I possess zero qualifications for that line of work, no acting experience on my resume, white is not in my color wheel, too poor to buy lottery tickets, and had no intention of parading around the downtown area in Ping Pong Ball attire – benefits or no benefits. “I will get back to you in a day or two” (actually, never!)
We’ve lived in Bellevue for 11 Years. We returned to Pittsburgh in 2010 after a 20 year absence pursuing our long-held dreams. At the age of 60, I opened a business (Bellevue Business Center, LLC), bought a cell phone and received my first ever bicycle (a tandem). I am a serious road hazard to myself and others riding on my own bike; on a tandem with my husband at the helm, I am a daredevil!
Last year, I read a Facebook post about the Feeding Neighbors Program, and decided to participate. Volunteering was an effective and productive way to be of assistance to fellow community members, and the most joy filled activity during the Pandemic. I volunteered with people from all walks of life, all age groups, from Bellevue and several Pittsburgh areas. I would never have had this pleasure had I not become involved.
This year, I’m looking forward to the market back at Bayne Park and the addition of live music! I’m also excited to be volunteering with Isaac, the owner of Pond Hill Farm, again. Beans and Greens made with Pond Hill Farm mixed greens are delightful!
You are never too old to make a contribution to your community. Take the gamble, stay young at heart and in your mind. You may not be as physically quick as you once were, but this is not a race! This is your opportunity to share all of your years of experience and expertise for the common good of your community and humanity. Go for the gusto! You will not have one, single regret. I am on the cusp of turning 70 – I absolutely refuse to let that number stop me, or dampen my joie de vivre!