When then-teenager Belinda Stoner reached into her bag for a Now & Later candy, she realized she had forgotten something important back at the convenience store: her sister.
Luckily, the toddler was safe and sound up at the register, where a kind employee kept watch. But for years afterward, Stoner mulled over that moment and other "big sister fails." Had she totally screwed up in helping raise her youngest sister?
Decades later, Stoner found out. And she wants to tell you about it.
Stoner and four others will tell their tales of growing up during the USA TODAY Storytellers Project's virtual show at 4 p.m. PT/7 p.m. ET on Thursday, March 18. You can register at https://www.storytellersproject.com/all-events/ and watch the show on the Storytellers Project's Facebook page, YouTube channel or website.
Stoner will be joined by:
- Chris Howlett, 27, of Louisville, Kentucky.
- Lee Porter of Lansing, Michigan.
- Ella Wooten, 80, of Cincinnati, Ohio.
- Monisha Mitchell, 48, of Zionsville, Indiana.
As a child and into his late teens, Howlett was bounced around to more than 100 foster homes. He didn't find a sense of stability until he graduated from the University of Louisville.
His drive and optimism kept him from falling through the cracks, he says.
"I can't change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination," Howlett said.
Porter, a teacher and former school administrator who has a doctor of education, will share the lessons he learned at the barbershop while growing up.
“I hope listeners get a better understanding of how my neighbor barbershop was a place I was taught life skills...,” he said.
Wooten's story takes us back in time before the bustling Cincinnati streets of today. She remembers a Cincinnati before the stadiums, highways and factories.
Neighbors were family during those times, Wooten said.
"It was a fact that parents and grandparents knew each other so well that they had a hand in nurturing all the children of the neighborhood," Wooten said. "Everything necessary to keep us safe and happy was within walking distance."
You don't find that sense of belonging anymore, especially during the pandemic, Mitchell says. She has a story of her own, a story of growing up and into the person she says God created her to be. She hopes sharing her story will inspire connection.
"The pandemic has been so isolating," Mitchell said. "Despite the phrase 'we're in this together,' people actually feel very alone. So I hope my story resonates with someone so they feel less so."
"Growing Up" is the third show of the Storytellers Project's 2021 season, which includes 43 national and regional shows. The series features storytellers from all across the United States, all coached by USA TODAY Network journalists and professional storytelling experts.
Learn more about the Storytellers Project and apply to tell a story at https://www.storytellersproject.com/.
Need to know
What: “Growing up”
When: March 18, 4 p.m. PT/7 p.m. ET
- March 18: Growing up
- June 17: My Family, My Culture
- Sept. 13: Home
- Nov. 18: Traditions