Meet Laurie Liming - BHDC’s final 2021 Woman of the Week
In honor of the women who are driving change, blazing trails and nurturing society, the Berkeley Heights Diversity Council is excited to celebrate Women’s HerStory Month by bringing back our inspiring “Woman of the Week (WOW)” series this March.
The Berkeley Heights Diversity Council (BHDC) is celebrating women in the Berkeley Heights community who are often unsung yet are inspiring, motivating and hard-working. WOW is honoring women right here in Berkeley Heights who are impacting the world in their own wonderful ways.
We are excited to feature Laurie Liming as our next and final WOW for 2021.
Laurie inspires us with her relentlessness paired with her desire to give back to the Berkeley Heights community that supported her with so much heart while she battled cancer. She took that heart and turned it back onto Berkeley Heights by creating The Silver Liming Foundation with her sons as a way to channel kindness back into the community. One lesson we take away from reading HerStory is this quote, “We have two ears and one mouth for a reason. We should listen twice as often as we speak.” We completely agree and hope you enjoy Laurie’s HerStory as much as we did.
Laurie Liming was a teacher at Mountain Park Elementary school for 20 years. In 2015, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. While she was sick, the kind people of Berkeley Heights helped raise her two sons, Thomas and Matthew. Laurie vowed to keep the kindness flowing and, with the help of her son, started Silver Liming Foundation. It’s a local nonprofit organization that spreads kindness, one gesture at a time.
How long have you lived or worked in Berkeley Heights?
My life in Berkeley Heights has spanned 25 years. I worked as a teacher for twelve years before moving here to raise my sons.
What inspires you?
My children inspire me every single day. I love watching them grow into kind young men. Children in general are inspirational, but my sons, nieces and nephews keep my heart happy and motivate me to be the best version of myself. Also, I am always inspired by nature’s glory.
If you were to describe yourself in one word, what would it be and why?
Relentless. In 2015, when I was given a ‘terminal’ cancer diagnosis, I spoke with Dr. Lisa Mills, my oncologist. I was determined to raise my sons and I refused to give up even when the treatment was unpleasant. I am also just as relentless when it comes to helping other people.
What are you binge-watching?
I binge-watch The Curse of Oak Island...it’s a real bobby-dazzler! I also took to gardening and playing chess during the pandemic.
What do you do for a living? Why did you go into your profession?
Before retiring due to complications from cancer, I was an elementary school teacher. I taught both general and special education. I chose teaching as a profession because I had a passion for learning, and wanted to share that with children.
What are key skills that you need to do what you do?
A few key skills that are necessary include carefully listening, knowing what your strengths are, and knowing when to ask for help. A former student taught me that we have two ears and one mouth for a reason. We should listen twice as often as we speak. Smiling is also key to being successful.
Who is one woman everyone should know about? What do you want them to know?
I think everyone should know about the woman who raised me, my mom, Eileen Liming. She taught me how to be a strong woman. My mother overcame much adversity, and that taught me to be strong enough to overcome challenges in my life. I would also want people to know that it is never too late to follow your dreams. The year my brother Jimmy graduated from high school, my mother graduated from vo-tech with her cosmetology license. My mother would always stress that you can’t put a price on family time; dinners, game nights, and s’mores by the campfire. All of those things are as or even more precious as all the ‘important’ stuff put together.
If you could go back to your high-school or college-age self, what’s one piece of advice you’d give?
One piece of advice that I would give my younger self is “no matter how hard things are, the sun always rises tomorrow.” Having the knowledge that I can get through anything would certainly help my younger self navigate hardships.
Who is your female role model & why?
My female role model is Mother Teresa. Long before she was famous, she spent over thirty years helping people. Her quote, “If you can’t feed one hundred people, then feed just one” inspires me daily. I hope to serve others the way that she did. My dear friend Carolyn Ahkao reminds me often that ‘everyone can do something.’
The idea of helping those in need inspired me to start the Silver Liming Foundation, with a mission to spread kindness. The foundation has helped over one thousand people in the past few years. Some of our kind gestures included paying for two youngsters to attend YMCA summer camp, providing meals and flowers to friends in need, delivering ‘cope-totes’ to community members enduring chemotherapy, grocery shopping for the elderly during COVID, and supporting children in town who lost parents to COVID. What I have learned most is that the members of our community are ALWAYS willing to do something to help others in need. It is inspiring.
How can you set an example for young women?
The best way I can set an example for young women is to teach them to grow through adversity. My journey through cancer has been challenging, to say the least. There were times I shined and days I wanted to quit the fight. But decisions needed to be made; give up or go on. I chose to go on, and now I hope to motivate young women around me to grow through what they go through. I would also encourage all women to watch the women around them live with grace. We can learn so much from watching our friends navigate life’s adversities. Each time I visit with my friend Nanci Gamba, I take a little of her sunshine with me. When life changed directions for her, she and her family chose to embrace life’s challenges, and do it in ways that inspire. Learning from the women around us is essential for all women, but especially for those who are young and looking for role models.
Originally published in TAPinto Berkeley Heights, March 31, 2021