If anyone had told Billy and Brenda Watterson that they would one day launch a Family Foundation, they would have had trouble believing it. Their story is not one of luck or generational wealth, but of hard work, perseverance, adversity, amazing people, and most importantly, a mighty God who transforms.
Born and raised in different parts of Ohio, Billy’s career first took him to Chicago while Brenda’s brought her to New England. But in 2002, while waiting for a shuttle bus at the Newark airport, a chance meeting brought them together. Within eighteen months, they were married with the added blessing of a blended family. Six years later their family grew with the addition of twins. Life has been an adventure ever since!
Their backgrounds, though different, had significant impact on their lives, helping to shape the way they viewed themselves and others. A scholarship recipient, Billy’s story was greatly influenced by the people who believed in him and were willing to invest in his dreams. Raised by a single mother, he and his brothers grew up in poverty, relying on government assistance and the kindness of strangers for food and shelter – the very basics of survival. But from a very young age, Billy knew he wanted more. Though he didn’t know when or how, he was determined to break free from the cycle of poverty that plagued his family. While he is a firm believer that hard work and determination can take a person a long way, he recognizes the impact that was made by strangers, both financially and relationally, in helping him gain access to opportunities that were critical to his success.
Raised in the country with two loving parents, Brenda and her sisters took things like food, safety, and security for granted, largely unaware that these were privileges not afforded to all. Growing up in the restaurant business she understood that success requires hard work, long hours and dedication to a dream. She carries deep gratitude for being raised in a faith-based home where the importance of compassion and generosity were not only taught but modeled.
None of us get to choose our origin story, but we do get to choose how we use it. We can’t change the past, but we can learn from it to impact our future. As the success of Watterson Brands has grown, so has Billy and Brenda’s desire to invest in the lives of others and offer hope to those in need.
Although we’ll never be able to eradicate all the brokenness in the world, we believe in the power of our Heavenly Father who can create beauty from the ashes when we allow Him too. It is easy to wish for a world without sorrow, tragedy, illness, or sin. But we believe that it is through suffering that transformation is born. Without tragedy none of us would truly know compassion, without betrayal; forgiveness, without failure; humility, without grace; mercy.