Trish is the receptionist at our Lee Street building. She greets visitors and mans the counter in our store. She also speaks up with ideas on how to improve our operations. “If I see something that needs to be changed, I bug people till they do it.”
When Trish was a young girl, years before tragedy struck, she prayed that someday God would send her a kind man—one who would love her and help her meet the challenges of life.
Kneeling in her bedroom in a small house in High Point, Trish had no way of knowing that she would face challenges so steep that only a man of uncommon kindness would be willing to share her burden.
When she was 15 years old, Trish was strolling along a stretch of beach. She was approached by a man who brandished a gun and forced her to walk with him. After a while she tried to escape and the man shot her three times.
The damage was permanent. One bullet lodged in her brain and wiped out most of her vision, as well as her hearing in one ear. She was paralyzed on one side of her body.
Trish was forced to accept the almost unbearable fact that she would never live a normal life. She returned to school in a wheelchair which, for a while, drove a wedge between her and her fellow students, who were made uneasy by it. But by the time Trish graduated, those same students—inspired by her example—named her Most Courageous Senior.
The bullets had extinguished not just most of Trish’s eyesight, but all her hopes of finding that partner who would share her life. But then one day, she met a man named Doug at a church retreat at, of all places, a beach. When their eyes met, Trish says, “The Lord told me Doug would be my husband.”
If it was indeed God’s will, His plan unfolded slowly. Despite what Trish knew in her heart, she and Doug were just friends for many years. But they grew closer and finally, five years after they met, Doug broached the subject of matrimony by asking Trish “What do you think Mama would say if we got married?”
Asked today if Doug was the answer to her prayers, Trish doesn’t answer right away. Her eyes redden and brim with tears. She softly says, “He shows it every day.”
For someone who has faced almost unimaginable horror, Trish today is unexpectedly good natured. Her mom has always known this about her. Trish was such a talkative, outgoing girl her 4th grade teacher noted it as a problem. Her mother saw the brighter side: “One day you’re going to make a great receptionist.” Trish thought so, too.
So years later, when Trish heard about a receptionist job at IOB, she tried not to get too excited. She applied for the job but told no one at the Sears computer center where she worked. When she learned she’d won the job, she let out a shriek of joy.
In 2000, Trish was selected from among hundreds of candidates across the country to receive the Milton J. Samuelson Career Achievement Award. Her colleagues at IOB were as thrilled as she was. On hearing about the magnificent ceremony where Trish would be honored, a friend exclaimed “You’re going to be treated like Cinderella!”
“And I was,” she says. She and Doug flew to San Antonio for the gala. Doug got her to a salon across the street from the hotel, where beauticians prepared her for the big moment.
“They put one hundred pins in my hair! It was one day I will never forget.”