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No matter how busy her days get, Wanda Washington always makes time for her family.
Not only is she a wife and mother of four, she has a full-time job as an in-home therapist at Adanta, she works part-time as coordinator of Greater Campbellsville United, she is president of the Campbellsville Business and Professional Women and an assistant regional director for BPW and she is district president for the Kentucky PTA.
And if that's not enough, Washington, 54, also teaches an adult Sunday school class and is a member of the usher board at Pleasant Union Baptist Church.
Her secret: prioritize and organize.
"There are some days when it seems like I'm going in different directions all day long," Washington says. "I have to prioritize and be a good organizer.
"And, most important, I devote myself to family."
Born in Louisville as one of 12 children, Washington moved to Campbellsville 21 years ago when her husband James was called to pastor a church. Now, though, James is out of town for much of the week doing construction work.
With eldest son Lamont serving in the U.S. Army and he and his family living in Texas, son Josh in the Marines in South Carolina, and daughter Jackey a student at the University of Louisville, Washington said she and her youngest daughter Jami, a freshman at Campbellsville High, spend much of their time together.
"But I have to talk to my kids nearly every day," Washington said.
In addition to her children, she also has a daughter-in-law, Bridget, and two granddaughters, Jessica, who is 7, and Erica, who is 3.
Washington also enjoys reading, whether the purpose is to strengthen her vocabulary, grow spiritually, learn for work, or just for the fun of it. She snuggles up in her PJs and comfy slippers and settles down with a book every night.
"My time, when I go to bed, it's to read," she said. "It doesn't matter whether it's a resource book for work, an inspirational book or a novel ... it's my quiet time and I block everyone and everything out."
"When I'm reading," she laughed, "they know not to bother me."
Washington's work with GCU focuses on racial, ethnic, socio-economic, religious, gender and political groups in the community. As such, she seeks to foster positive race relations through programs and initiatives that educate the community.
But through the years, there have been a few times she has experienced racial prejudice herself.
Growing up in a poor family, Washington said she doesn't really recall being treated differently.
"Black people did things together and white people did things together," she said. "That was just the norm. I wasn't really aware of any problems."
But soon after she and her husband married, that changed.
They were living in Madison, Ind. at the time, and she called about an apartment for rent. The owner, guessing that she was black from her voice, hesitated before saying that the apartment had already been rented. Suspicious about the woman's tone of voice, Washington had a friend who she says, "didn't sound like she was black," call back about the apartment. This time, Washington said, the owner was willing to set up an appointment.
"I'm not a person of confrontation so I didn't do anything," she said, "but I got my feelings hurt.
"That made me understand that racism still happens."
Another time Washington said she experienced racial prejudice was about 15 years ago when she took members of her church youth group on a trip to Louisville. On the way home, she said, they stopped at a Waffle House. Upon their entry, however, they were told the grill was closed, though later they watched others go inside and be waited on.
The most recent incident was less than a year ago and involved her work at Adanta. It was also the incident that bothered her the most, she said.
A family in Green County had set up a conference with her. They arrived at her office for the initial visit and were supposed to schedule a time for her to come to their home.
Instead, they declined.
"That bothered me," Washington says. "I really felt like I could help them bring harmony to their home, but they couldn't get past racism. But I didn't need to be there if they felt that way because we wouldn't be effective."
Washington said she believes there is more silent racism in society today than there are public issues. And much of that can be seen in certain occupations, such as in banks, corporate leadership and even retail stores.
"But, here, no matter their color, people need to prepare themselves to be hirable for these positions," she says. "We should all be prepared if we want the chance."
All in all, Washington says she believes society's prejudice, in some respects, is less than it once was.
"It won't ever go away, because that's just the way some people believe ... they're raised that way and they'll raise their kids that way.
"But, still, more is accepted than not."
- Editor Rebecca Cassell can be reached at 465-8111 Ext. 227 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.