Donna Reed

Out of the Orphanage and Into the Light

The woman who’s inspiring sisters everywhere. Keep making it happen because it will.

When she was a small child, Donna Lee Reed would point at the furniture in her house and tell her adoptive mom that she was going to build that one day. Her mom took the little girl at her word. From then on, when something in the house would break, Donna’s mom would ask her to fix it.

Being just a kid, Donna didn’t know how to repair most of these items. But because her mom believed in her, she tried. As she grew up, she developed skills working with her hands. Just as important, her mom’s confidence in her evolved into confidence and faith in herself.

That self-esteem came in handy later, when she found herself raising four infant girls on her own after an abusive marriage fell apart. With no college education and no job prospects, Reed seemed destined to become the classic welfare statistic. The odds had been stacked against her since the day she was born. Her biological mother had abandoned her at the hospital, and Reed lived the first two years of her life in an orphanage.

But when faced with the prospect of becoming what society expected of her — the clichéd welfare mom — Reed fought back, and won. She used her talent for making and selling handcrafted items to get off welfare.

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