Janesville, Wisconsin Chapter

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Janesville Leader Interviewed

Janesville Chapter leader, Karla Simpson w got the opportunity to be interviewed by Becky Weber-Johnson on WCLO, 1230 AM and 92.7 FM along with Sheena Hanson with Uncommon Cents Investing, who is an advocate for our club and wants to bring awareness to our local chapter and the national organization. Karla shared our widow message with hundreds of listeners over a 50 minute broadcast.  Hear the interview below.

Our Mission Statement: We serve to empower widows to “lean into life,” build resilience and release their potential to make a positive difference in the world.

Modern Widows Club is designed to create a safe and private environment for widows to lean into life together through the journey.

We are the club no one wants to be in because you only get in by virtue of experiencing a great loss. Yet what I hope you find once you’re here is that you’re surrounded by a community of really amazing women that you can lean on and learn from. We’re widows helping widows to live– to go upward and onward. Sometimes we cry and sometimes we laugh. We talk about how to tackle challenges without our husbands’ help and cheer each other on. We often share food as we do this, because who doesn’t like to eat?

When a woman loses her husband she tends to feel very alone. Regardless of her age or circumstances, she can use other women in her life who understand the unique challenges she is now faced with. She needs women who will build her up and encourage her in this new life she walks. We are stronger together. No woman is an island. We need each other.

  Meet our Leaders

Chapter Leader – Karla S.

Karla was married for 31 years and had two grown stepchildren and two young granddaughters when her husband, Randy, died in 2013. She was 57 years old.  She was blessed to have the love and support of family and many friends at her side. Now, MWC has expanded that support, love, hope and courage to help her move forward into this new chapter of her life without the deep guilt, fear, pain and loss she once experienced. 

Chapter Leader – Peggy M.

Peggy is a native from Janesville, and attended the University of Wisconsin, Whitewater. She married Loren Mayfield, and had 2 sons together.  She was widowed in December 2018 after 53 years of marriage. She joined MWC in March of 2019 and has been a vital part of the chapter since day one. The Janesville chapter has helped her keep moving forward, and appreciate every moment that she can spend with her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  She is retired from banking, and is an avid quilter.

Chapter Leader – Judy C.

My husband and I had both been married before when a friend introduced us.  Joe had five children and I had two, the oldest was 11 and the youngest 3 when we  married, blended the two families and welcomed an “ours” soon after.  Eight was enough!  The years flew by, some challenging times, but more fun and laughter than not.  We both retired in 2000 and enjoyed an empty nest as well as winter months in the Florida panhandle.  In July, 2018, he was diagnosed with esophageal cancer.  He sailed through radiation and chemo with a great attitude and we were able to celebrate our 50th Anniversary in February before he died on May 9.  Even though I knew it was coming, it was still devastating and it just didn’t seem real.

I am fortunate to have a very supportive large family and grateful for so many long-time friends.  One of those friends suggested MWC and there I found an entire new group of women who offered encouragement, understanding, support and also laughter.  My goal is to be there for other widows looking for that “soft place to fall”.  

History

Janesville is the home to a Modern Widows Club chapter, currently guided by leaders Twila, Peggy and Karla.  The original chapter leaders Annette and Sherrie, became acquainted during a high school parent-teacher conference.  They were both widows and slowly got to know each other.  Their bond grew stronger with each shared struggle as widows.  Their husbands’ deaths had changed their lives forever, but they were grateful for the chance to help each other refocus and find joy in their lives.  Annette began interacting with other widows socially, choosing uplifting women that provided a safe place to laugh, cry and support each other.  She soon felt a calling to help other widows find this same support and encouragement after the loss of their husbands.  After discovering Modern Widows Club on Facebook in 2013, she immediately believed in this organization and sensed it could be an incredible way to spread the help she had received after her loss.  Striving to affirm and guide other widows to experience the encouragement and understanding, she started the Janesville Modern Widows Club chapter in January 2014.

One thing that widows must do is to embrace change and grow in our lives.  In 2016, Sherrie stepped down as co-leader and Karla, after being actively involved as a member of the chapter, became the new co-leader.

From the growth and strength that Annette received from starting and leading the Janesville Modern Widows Club, she had the courage to open herself to love again  She remarried in 2015.  Her new life is taking her in new directions and she stepped down as leader in November 2018.

At that time, Twila, Jean and Karla became the new leaders of the Janesville Chapter.  All had been active members of the group and had been enriched by it.  The three lead the chapter until Jean stepped down as leader due to health concerns in November 2019.   Currently, Twila and Karla are leading the chapter along with Peggy as Co-Leader.

As Annette did, Twila, Peggy and Karla realize that “showing up” is the first and likely the most difficult step in growing and becoming stronger after loss.  They have also been through intense grieving after losing their spouses and want to give back some of the support they have received.  Being strong, sensitive and compassionate to those suffering a new loss, we desire to walk with other widows and to dream and be courageous together.  We want to give back and empower all who find their way to our chapter.

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The Janesville chapter and Karla S. received special awards at our recent 2019 Leadership Conference that was held in Nashville, TN. We are honored to be a part of such an amazing organization that puts so much into their leaders, as well as the widows we serve.

The chapter was chosen as the Modern Widows Club Chapter of the Year for 2019. Founder, Carolyn Moor says: “I chose this chapter because of how little they thought they were and how much they grew in a short amount of time. I went there, and I walked into a room full of 45 ladies. And every one of them are advocates in the community. And I thought as they drove me around the city, “small towns rock”, and they really do. There’s been a transition of leadership and they’ve trained so many new leaders and now they’re moving into even a third generation of leaders. It was beautiful to experience the widow community in this small town.”

Carolyn also presented the award of Role Model of the Year to our very own Karla S. “There are certain women that are just truly extraordinary and humble, and they have no idea how much they bring to other women in the organization. The role model of the year is someone who really doesn’t even realize their impact, but they do so much and it’s precious.”

Pictured is (from left to right) Peggy, Twila, and Kara.  Photo by Jenn Fortune Photography

IN MEMORIAM: Remembered and Loved Always

We will forever remember our spouses and friends who have left us, as they will always be in our hearts and memories. We would like to honor our beloved members who have also left us.

 ~ Darlene M.: Beloved Member 2014-2017

~ Christine S.: Beloved Member 2017