Leslie Teddy describes her introduction to Women of Vision as “a God wink.”
Leslie remembers feeling worried when she and her husband, Wayne, were preparing to move from Minneapolis back to her hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina. While she was happy to be closer to her children and grandchildren, it was difficult to leave her church and close friends behind. To make matters worse, all of her childhood friends had moved away from Charlotte. But then, she says, she got the “God wink” — the encouragement she needed, right when she needed it.
In a beauty salon in Charlotte where Leslie was waiting for her mother-in-law, a stranger struck up a conversation, asking Leslie what she was working on. It happened to be her homework from Bible Study Fellowship. The woman asked more about it, and within five minutes Leslie was in tears, telling this stranger all of her fears about moving. The woman turned out to be the founder of Women of Vision in Charlotte. She later told Leslie that she had felt a nudge to talk to her, that Leslie seemed like she needed someone to reach out to her. It was an ordained encounter.
Leslie was invited to join an introductory class to learn about Women of Vision, and she made connections with other women right away. “I have to have girlfriends. It’s my lifeblood,” she says. The new friendships eased her concerns about moving.
For several months, Leslie and Wayne split their time between Minneapolis and Charlotte. But six months later, they sold their home in the north and moved to North Carolina. The Charlotte chapter of Women of Vision quickly felt like home for Leslie.
“I completely plugged in and the rest was history,” she says. “I just made all these friends. It was like-minded women from different walks of life. And we all had the same desire to do good.”
It was through these friendships that Leslie learned more about World Vision and began to develop trust in the organization. She didn’t feel called to go on Vision Trips to other countries, but appreciated hearing about the work being accomplished when her friends would travel and share with the chapter when they returned home.
“I think of myself as a charitable person, but I’m also a skeptic,” she admits. “If I hear a plea for money, my first thought is, ‘What’s the angle?’ With World Vision, I never had that, only because of Women of Vision.
“I developed a trust in the organization based on knowing these women and what kind of women they were, that if they came back from a mission trip and they said, ‘Y’all, this is what World Vision is doing with their money, this is what we need to do to help them get more money here,’ I was all in because I had a trust in those women.”
Leslie values the way Women of Vision lets members be as involved as they can or want to be. This enables her to have the freedom to spend time with her now-retired husband, their three grown children — one of whom lives in Charlotte — and their grandchildren.
Her chapter encourages members to join in and give what they are willing to share. She appreciates their mindset of, “‘Do what you want to do. Pray for us. If that’s all you want to do, just pray for us. And if you want to go to Ethiopia, go to Ethiopia with us. Just do what your part is that you want to contribute.’ I like that concept a lot because it’s not intimidating,” she says. “You don’t have to check off boxes.”
For Leslie, that’s meant taking on a few different roles, like helping her chapter train new members and hosting an annual retreat for incoming board members at her lake home for several years. The former interior designer turned stay-at-home mom enjoyed welcoming the guests into her home.
“Every fall I got to just really have a ball with preparing. I loved doing that,” she says. “You get to meet even more people because they come to your home, so they purposely come and speak to you.”
Leslie’s favorite project with Women of Vision has been serving as a counselor for several summers at the girls’ camp in Philippi, West Virginia, in the Appalachians, that her chapter runs for disadvantaged girls. There, she had the opportunity to meet World Vision employees working in Philippi. Their dedication and commitment made a lasting impression on her.
“It gave me another element of trust in World Vision,” she says. Initially hesitant to go to the camp, Leslie ended up having an incredible experience, bonding more closely with her Women of Vision friends as they served together. She now looks forward to returning.
“It further cements you into World Vision because you’ve been with people who give you even more trust in the organization,” she explains. “I trust it by seeing it in action. If you see it in action, that’s your proof that your money’s going to the right place, and your time, your talents, your faith, your everything is going to the right place. And that’s what happened to me in Women of Vision.”
Ties to home
Serving children in Appalachia was especially meaningful because of the personal connection Leslie felt with the people of the impoverished region.
“My father was born to an unwed mother — she was a teenager in the hollows of Kentucky,” Leslie says. “And when we first went to Philippi, I thought, wow, this is just like where my father was born, and these are just the same kind of people that my father was born to. And it’s a vicious cycle of poverty. It meant a lot to me to be there.”
The Charlotte chapter of Women of Vision has not only blessed Leslie with lasting friendships but also given her new experiences that have helped her grow and learn. She’s thankful for that “God wink” in the beauty salon.
“I feel like God opened the path to me for Women of Vision, and I listened and took that path,” Leslie says. “And I think God has brought me so many blessings from taking that — through the friends I’ve made, the things I’ve learned about. God opened my eyes to things that I would have never had the opportunity to see or to learn about through Women of Vision. Some of that has been through other people’s experiences and hearing about them, and some of it has been through my own experiences.”