Today, I'm shining the spotlight on Linda Yanega. Linda was born in Cleveland, Ohio, to Larry and Carolyn Prahst, who still live in the same house Linda, and her brother, Michael (who now lives in Texas), grew up in on Broadale Avenue! They enjoyed a close knit family, and Linda, and her husband Bob, and their daughters (when much younger) even traveled together with Linda's parents throughout the United States for many years (Florida/Niagara on the Lake/historic sites/Lake Erie Islands - Put-in-Bay a family favorite).
Linda and I met while in junior high (9th grade), though Linda did start her education as a kindergartener at Benjamin Franklin ES, but then went on to St. Mark's Lutheran School until the 8th grade. Linda and I discovered we had some of the same classes together in that 9th grade year (and again at Rhodes), and have currently maintained a social media friendship along with a small group of Rhodes Rams meetups whenever I'm in town, and the others can meetup as well.
As a matter of fact, Linda's graduation in 1980, as a Rhodes Scholar graduate, was the last in a line of a dynasty that included her dad, three uncles and one of her aunts. How's that for Rhodes Ram Spirit?
As our conversation took hold, I learned Linda maintains a kind and generous spirit, and it flows out of her from each and every pore. She upholds that "Faith is First," and her sovereignty to God has helped her work through her life's issues. Linda expressed that her faith grew exponentially when she attended the 1972 Billy Graham Crusade in Cleveland, Ohio, and as a 10 year old girl, gave her heart and surrendered her life to Christ. Pretty heady stuff for a 10 year old girl, but she has continued her faith every day since that Crusade and never looked back. What an inspiration she is!
After high school (and with a lot of AP credits to her name), Linda graduated in December of 1983 with a Criminal Justice - Corrections degree from Kent State University. (We had the exact same major in college!) While still a student, Linda worked an internship in Washington, DC., for the Washington Program of National Issue or WPNI. This internship was through the Kent State Political Science Department and provided Linda with valuable learning experiences she used for many years. She also worked at juvenile residential homes/shelters/half-way houses and the like for two summers and one break while still in college.
Linda stated she enjoyed working with juveniles so much, and learned a great deal of life lessons, that she decided to focus and work with the juvenile population after college graduation because she saw more hope for diversion and for her charges (truants, runaways and behavioral issues in girls) to take life in a more positive direction with the help and resources provided to them. She worked in the field from 1984-1986, plus a few other jobs to make ends meet at that time.
During Linda's sophomore year at Kent State, she met Bob Yanega, a philosophy major - but worked in construction most of his working career. She first dated his friend, but that didn't work out; but it did with Bob...by him purchasing a Fencing book from Linda. Now, is that romance or what? A whirlwind courtship, of course, ensued and they were engaged in the summer of 1983 and married on October 6, 1984 in Cleveland, Ohio.
By 1986, their first daughter, Elisa, was born and Linda was ecstatic! She loves kids so much that she was the quintessential mother and loved being a mom from Day 1. Their second daughter, Hannah, was born in 1990, and life was getting very busy at the Yanega household. Today, Linda and Bob are grandparents of five youngsters: Zoe, 6; Jack 4; and Aurora 1 yr. (Elisa's and live in Springfield, Ohio) and Lily, 6; and Everett, 4 (Hannah's and live in Cleveland, Ohio).
Linda added that she was a "stay-at-home" mom for close to 25 years until her daughter Hannah left for college. And besides work work; she has volunteered in some capacity for most of her life. She has volunteered for the WVIZ auction; her daughter's school library (if she could do-over, would have perhaps become a librarian); her daughter's schools, classrooms and computer labs, and currently, volunteers a the Nature Center at Shaker Lakes (near her home) in their development department (clerical/data entry/special events.) And lastly, she has volunteered in many aspects as opportunities arose within her former church as well as her current church.
But, as we know, life likes to throw curve balls to all of us, and it has been no different for Linda. She revealed that she and Bob separated for almost two years. They had serious issues to deal with, but Linda declares that by God's grace and her strong faith, they reconciled and are, thankfully, back together. Linda recited this to me: "The Lord will restore the years that the locusts have eaten."
This purple loving gal, with strong and faithful convictions, also loves to cook and can spend hours in her newly renovated kitchen. When I inquired on her favorite gift ever received, she revealed that her husband gave her a fairly large, nice telescope one year because Linda has always loved stargazing in the night sky. In effect, he gave her the gift of the stars. And, let's also add that this is a gift that keeps on giving. You see, Linda claimed she had enjoyed gazing up at the stars so much, but wanted to share her passion with her children as well. Recently, they've passed it along to her daughter Elisa and her husband for them to introduce those same stars to their children.
As I reflected on our conversation, it was revealed to me that Linda is a caretaker through and through; and loves to serve others and the Lord too. I then asked her if she would share a favorite quote or two with me, and she rattled off the following, and very eloquently, I must admit:
"Happiness isn't happiness without a violin playing goat." From the movie, Notting Hill
And lastly, the verse that is her "life verse" John 16:33 (NIV):
"I have told you these things, so that in me you many have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."
By the way, Linda also loves to sing and was in a very large choir for many years at her former church.
She sings on a praise team at her church occasionally now, and was also part of a community chorus for a while as music has always been a very important part of her life! Sing on, Linda!
BSoleille! The bright side of Linda Yanega's shining light, er the stars, of our beautiful galaxy!
Photos below provided by Linda: First photo is Linda's family at Hannah's wedding
|Bob and Linda|
|Linda with her daughters: Hannah and Elisa|
|Linda and Granddaughter Aurora (a favorite of Linda's)|
|Linda and Rhodes 80 Alum: Kim Siska Doerfler at an Indian's Game|