Essay by Jessica Deese and photography by Kate Reali
SUMMER CAMP VOLUNTEER
Some people never really find their life’s calling. Then there are folks like Brad Osborne who find it early, and live it out in really beautiful ways. In his case, it’s all about empowering children. During the school year, he’s teaching second graders at Daphne Elementary. In the summer, you can find him orchestrating all the fun at Camp Rap-A-Hope, a free, week-long camp in West Mobile for children with cancer. Fifteen years ago, at the ripe old age of 24, after noticing one of his friend’s joy after volunteering at this special place, Brad decided, “I needed to experience this too. It was time.” He took an unpaid week off his day job and he’s never looked back. “It truly changed my life.” In talking of his experiences, he exudes the genuine enthusiasm he described recognizing in his friend so many years ago. “In giving your time to someone else’s joy and happiness, you are also filled with joy and happiness. At school, I empower kids academically. At camp, I empower kids physically. But all of it is building confidence. In spite what’s going on around you, you can still do something different and find some positivity.”
From her swim team debut, “sucking my thumb while swimming the length of the pool,” to summers spent at her grandparents’ bay house, where “all you did was swim, and you got in trouble if you slept in your bathing suit,” Brady Berglin’s life has been inextricably linked to the water. Her mother and siblings were experienced lifeguards. With that pedigree, it was almost inevitable she would carry on the family legacy. After 20 years of teaching, it’s fair to say that Brady can now claim a legacy that’s all her own. At her peak, Brady hosted classes on the hour 8am- 5pm each summer. As a teacher to newbies, her classes focus on the critical skills of getting across and out of the pool. With her signature style of firmness and fun, students may start out screaming, but generally leave with squeals of delight. “My favorite thing is to take terrified kids and help them transform their fear into fun.” Their hard work is rewarded with a bonafide graduation complete with diplomas and ice cream. After graduation, Brady encourages parents to get their kids on a swim team, watch vigilantly and “of course, pray a lot!”
After a string of professional paths cut short by unlucky downsizes and lay-offs, Frank Potter decided it was time to be his own boss. “While I could have made a living any number of ways, the opportunity to work on the water was the determining factor in my becoming a pier builder. It never gets old.” Shortly after he completed his first pier in Battles Wharf, Hurricane George struck. Luck is a funny thing. An ill-fated day for many proved to be a fortuitous one for his fledgling business. Piers along the shoreline went down like dominoes, but his stood strong. His phone started ringing off the hook; he went from two to forty-five employees, and he’s never looked back. “If that hurricane hadn’t come, would I be where I am today? It’s hard to say. There is an element of luck in everything.“ Storms have come and gone, and his piers and business are still intact. After 23 years of solid success, he’s most proud of his track record on the personal front. “I love my clientele. I become friends with many. Most contractors can’t say that. I could not have lucked up any more. ”
Wanda and Isaac Houston
ICE CREAM TRUCK OWNERS
While food trucks sit at the top of the current cultural popularity charts, they owe homage to the beloved ice cream truck that long ago drove its way into our hearts and established itself as a classic American icon. One of those hearts belonged to a young Wanda Houston. Growing up in San Francisco, she fondly remembers the infectious excitement that instantly broke out when the truck appeared delivering tasty treats and magical music. The joy of those experiences remained long after the trucks drove away, and she hoped to have her own one day. In 2010, when Wanda and her husband Isaac began planning a second career, she shared her idea and Isaac Ice Cream Services was born. “Isaac and I wanted something we could do together. Something we could enjoy. And we do. Seeing the kids happy, running up to the truck jumping up and down, just lifts our spirits, “says Wanda. Isaac added, “It’s not just ice cream. It’s making memories.” After a long day’s work, Wanda often hears the music in her head as she drifts off to sleep. “But it doesn’t bother me.” It doesn’t get much sweeter than that.