By Dale Buchanan
It is my pleasure to introduce you to our newly appointed Chair of the Ministry of Christian Education. Candice has been a member of Big Red for about five years and if you haven’t met her you are missing out. This woman is a dynamo, which is to say that she is a forceful, energetic person. I am here to tell you that this definition fits Candice to a “T.”
After several tries, I got this dynamic woman to sit for an interview. I half expected her to be in such a hurry that we would not get many answers, however, this was not to be the case. She leaned back in her chair and gave us a marvelous glance into the essence of who she is and left this scribe convinced that the Nominating Committee had found a winner. Indeed, when Candice rushed off to her next appointment, I was breathless with the passion with which she approaches every aspect of her life.
I asked where she was born and she responded with a concise verbal autobiographical sketch that provided a perfect introduction to this “From the Pews” post.
“I was born in Ventura, California, and lived in Santa Paula, a Ventura suburb. When I was four years old and my sister was two, our mother gave custody of us to our step-father who raised us as a single parent. He did his best. He combed our hair although it didn’t look like it and if K-Mart did not have it, we did not get it. Dad made up for those shortcomings with love. His family became our family. Grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins made up for our ragamuffin appearance.
We moved to Visalia when dad got a teaching job at the College of Sequoia. I attended middle school, high school, and College of Sequoia during those growing up years. Shortly after graduation from Sequoia, dad was killed in a motorcycle accident. This loving man continued to look after his two little ragamuffin daughters even after death. He left trusts for my sister and me. With my trust money and a job at Save-Mart, I moved to Fresno, enrolled at Fresno State, rented a room in the Tower district, bought a car, paid my own way for everything, and had money to finance my wedding. Along the way I graduated from Fresno State with a major in sociology and a minor in non-profit management leadership.”
The first time I talked to Candice was in the Fellowship Hall at Big Red. We were chatting about an interview and she remarked that she was passionate about hot air balloons. I stored that comment away for future use. Looking back at Gayle’s notes from the interview, that first conversation stands out loud and clear. First and foremost, it is obvious that Candice is passionate in every pursuit she undertakes. Secondly, the interview notes reveal her four great passions.
When we finally got together, my first question was about that first great passion, “How did you get interested in Hot Air Balloons?” Her answer floored me, “It is true that I am a balloon enthusiast, but I have a fear of heights and flying. I go to the Clovis Balloon Fest and love watching the balloons go up. They are beautiful as they soar across the sky, however, I would have to get drunk to get in one.” Temporarily at a loss for words, Candice quickly rescued me by offering that while she doesn’t fly in balloons, she does sky dive. “Are you telling me that you jump out of airplanes?” “Well, yes, there is nothing more exciting than a parachute leap from an airplane. Isaac and I even planned our engagement party around skydiving.
The next great passion revealed in our notes is her passion for Girl Scouts which really impressed me. Candice was never a Girl Scout but Girl Scouts is her passion. She says she was so involved in other leadership activities in school that she didn’t have time to be a Girl Scout. And like hot air balloons and parachutes, she sees no inconsistency here. 😊 A glance at her employment history, however, suggests that a career in Girl Scouts is perfect for her. She has worked for the Girl Scouts of Central California for almost seven years and is now Manager of the Girl Scouts Experience Department that serves 11,000 to 15,000 girls from Kern County in the south to Madera County in the north and east to Ridge Crest. The goal is to provide high quality experience for the girls. The focus of these experiences is: (1) STEM—science, technology, engineering, and math; (2) Entrepreneurship; (3) Life Skills; and (4) Functional in the outdoors.
Hidden between the lines of our notes are two names: Isaac and Henry. Isaac is her husband and Henry her son. Together they are another of her great passions. Together they are family. Together they are love. Sweethearts since junior college, Isaac and Candice surely love each other as evidenced by the fact that they leap from airplanes together. Henry is five years old. His hair will not stay combed, and he is the precocious child who delights us all with his “awesome” responses during Children’s Time. When Candice speaks about Isaac and Henry, there is a passionate softness not evident when she speaks about sky diving and Girl Scouts.
As our time wound down, I prompted Candice to talk about her new volunteer position as Coordinator of Christian Education. Her passion flared immediately. “God put this in my lap for a reason. Everything up to this point has prepared me for this position. My goal is to create structures that will be in place when my term is complete so others can pick up and run with it.