Your Neighbor: Meet Ginni Baker Jones

Published 12:05 am Thursday, April 4, 2024

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By Mandy Haggerson

For the Clemmons Courier

When you grow up as the second oldest child with four other siblings, you learn many valuable lessons. Although it can be chaotic, it can also be comforting, especially in life’s most challenging times.

Ginni Baker jokes, “Our childhood home was never quiet. It’s much like my current house is now. There was always someone around and something to do.”

The adaptable Baker found she also loved trying new things throughout her childhood. Whether it was summer swim at the Elks Club, recreational soccer, cross country in high school at R.J. Reynolds or managing her school’s lacrosse team, she always stayed busy.

“When I went to college, it was strange how quiet it was at first,” Baker said. “I went to the University of North Carolina at Wilmington initially to become a teacher. After thinking it over and knowing that I wanted to have some flexibility when I raised my own family, I decided to pursue accounting instead as my major. I finished my undergraduate degree in three and a half years. Once I graduated, I headed to Raleigh to do an internship for Deloitte in their tax department.”

It was during that time that Baker connected with her future husband, Stephen. “We had a lot of mutual friends and were friends for about five years before we started dating. He had gone to North Carolina State University, and I was getting ready to start a master’s program in accounting there,” reveals Baker.

Once Baker completed her master’s program, she began working for Williams Overman Pierce as an auditing manager.

“I specialized in construction accounting and really enjoyed it,” Baker said. “When Stephen and I decided to expand our family, Lilli, 13; Emerson, 11; and Jack, 9, it became more challenging to work and take care of the kids. I tried working part-time, but sometimes, based on the demands at work, it was not possible.

“We also had learned that my sister, Patti, had been diagnosed with breast cancer at only 29 years old. I really wanted to be there for her as much as possible and spend time with our family. My mom had passed away from breast cancer just three years prior, so it was devastating to have it impact our family again.”

Fueled by optimism, Baker had hopes that Patti wouldn’t share the same fate with breast cancer.

“I still remember the day she called and told me that she was diagnosed,” Baker said. “She was scared that she was going to die. I told her that she was too young for that to be a possibility, and I really believed it. Unfortunately, the cancer spread to her liver, and she was 31 years old when she passed away. It was very aggressive despite having the best treatment.”

Because of her mom and sister’s history with breast cancer, Baker is a big advocate for getting recommended mammogram screenings.

“I’m a believer that it doesn’t matter how scary it is; go and get it taken care of right now,” Baker said. “That is a huge lesson from this incredible loss. I also try to share with my children the positive memories of both my mom and sister. I don’t want them to just know the sadness of how much we miss them. I want them to know the great characteristics of their personalities, too, because there were many. My children (which also includes Wyatt, 7, and Virginia, 3) don’t have their own memories of them, but they aren’t scared to bring them up or include them in our conversations because of how often they are spoken of.

Another way Baker has honored her sister and mom’s memory is by embroidering, sewing and creating.

“When Patti passed away, her husband gave me her embroidery machine,” Baker said. “It was therapeutic to use it. Initially, I made different clothes for my kids, and then others started requesting those items too. Now, at the baseball field, when parents see numbers on hats, they know that I’ve probably made them,” laughs Baker. “And then they request that for their child, too. I started the Inspired Thread on Facebook and Instagram, and it’s kept me pretty busy. I love making things, and I also appreciate the connection it gives me to Patti. My mom and dad had taught all of us kids to be crafty growing up, so I know, on some level, they would have been grateful that I kept that tradition going.”

Although, Baker doesn’t have much free time with her family’s busy activities.

“All the kids have started various sports, and after COVID-19, I began homeschooling all of them,” Baker said. “I continued doing it after COVID-19 because I felt like I was able to really meet each kid where they were at. Virginia is in preschool for four days of the week, but the rest of the children are home with me unless it’s a day where we have co op. Two of my children are dyslexic, so I have learned a lot about Orton Gillingham, and they are tutored in it several days a week so that they can learn tools to allow their brains the best possible way to learn.”

While teaching her children, Baker is reminded of what her mom told her.

“She had said to me that even though all of your kids share the same parents, they will all be very different and have different parenting needs,” Baker said. “She was so right. There are many moments I wish I could call her up and ask her for advice, but words of wisdom like that, I hold dear. And now that I’m a parent of five children, I wonder how she did it in a world without ordering things from Amazon.

“I know that this time with them is fleeting, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. But like many parents, you are truly humbled once you have children of your own and realize how much your own parents sacrificed for your happiness and well-being.”