Drawing awe and inspiring those she meets
This year, we decided to open a door to learn more about all the amazing mothers here in our community. Many entries were received and we truly had a difficult time selecting only one winner. However, when our staff reviewed the submissions, one person tugged at our heartstrings: Sharion Rigney of Warrenton. We thank everyone who submitted such thoughtful nominations, it was truly heartwarming.
Alyson Degroot submitted the winning Nom a Mom nomination for Sharion Rigney. Here is what she had to say: “To give something a description of amazing, I think it must stand out, draw awe, or inspire. I recently met Sharion Rigney, a Warrenton resident for over 24 years, who qualifies for the description of amazing…She is a mother figure to many.” As a woman without her own children, Degroot shared, “I can’t imagine the selflessness required to be a mom to your own children, let alone other people’s children, especially foster children you know you won’t be able to keep as your own. Sharion’s courage and love for others makes me want to be vulnerable to love others without condition. For all these things, I consider Sharion an amazing mom and nominate her for 2018 Lifestyle Mother of the Year.”
Sharion has three biological children, but over the course of the past 15 plus years, she and her husband Jeff have provided a foster home for approximately 68 to 75 children. Her desire to assist those in need stemmed from her personal experience with her own situation after her first marriage. Because of her love for children, she also operates her own business, Ms. Shay’s Daycare. Her business name aptly reflects what all the children call her – Ms. Shay. “It’s where I am supposed to be,” Sharion explained.
When we reached out to Sharion to let her know she was selected as our Mother of the Year she said, “Oh wow! Thank you so very much.” When we spoke, we learned even more about her. When she was a young woman, her first marriage ended very early on and left her with young children to care for all on her own. During that time, Sharion lived in Leesburg and was a member of the United Methodist Church which assisted her by helping her pay her utilities.and ensuring her children always had presents under the Christmas tree. Sharion realized during those trying times she was able to get by “only with God’s help,” and knew when she was “able to give back she would”. She said, “Once I remarried, I told Jeff about my desire to give back and make a difference in the lives of children, and he supported me.”
In the past, while her children were still young, Sharion worked for an insurance company, but realized her family was more important. She decided to open a daycare in order to be more accessible to her children. “It’s my calling, I’m where I am supposed to be,” she explained. All the children she works with call her Ms. Shay, hence the name for her daycare. Her business is all about creating a “safe place” for children.
“One day I opened the church bulletin and it said ‘In need of foster parents.’ Since I was a daycare provider and love being with children, my husband and I decided to help,” she said. Sharion initially worked with Volunteer Emergency Families with Children (VEFC) where she and Jeff would receive a call, sometimes in the middle of the night, to provide a safe environment for children in need. Her home would be a home for children for up to 21 days. After which the children would then either go back to their own home or move to a more permanent foster home. Then one year DSS (Department of Social Services) contacted her and shared VEFC lost its funding and wanted her and her husband to become foster parents.
“I get attached quickly and it breaks my heart when they (the children) have to leave,” said Sharion. But she and Jeff became licensed foster parents. “We had one foster child – a little boy – with us for six months. I wanted to adopt him, but Jeff was about to retire and we were almost empty nesters, so it wasn’t the ideal time to become full-time parents again,” Sharion remembered. “But the little boy was adopted and now I am his godmother and his ‘grandmother’. We even vacation with him and his adoptive family.”
Sharion explained, “When you foster a child you may have them for a couple of days, or a long time. Plus, when you take in a child and they leave, approximately 95 percent of the time you never hear how that child is doing; it’s hard.” In the late ‘90s, Sharion fostered a little girl and her brother. Many years later, she received a call from that little girl, who was then about 16 or 17 years old. The young lady and her mother met with Sharion for a visit and to say thank you. “That meant a great deal as I can only give to these children a little bit. If I can leave a positive impression on one child, I feel like I’ve done my part.”
Sharion, has given back time and again to the community through her dedication to provide a “safe place” for so many. She even volunteers at Fauquier High School (FHS) where she works the football game concession stand, assists with the After Prom Committee, and is an active member of the FHS Booster Club. After learning of her commitment to children throughout the community, there is no doubt as to why Alyson Degroot nominated her for this contest.
Sharion, we wish you a very happy Mother’s Day. Thank you for allowing us to share your story.