The Story Behind Our Name and Warrior Logo

The woman for whom this center is named has served as an inspiration to me throughout my life. I believe it is only fitting that this center, The Juanita Center LLC, be named in her honor.

Let me tell you about the woman behind the Center's name...

Juanita was born two decades after the turn of the 20th century. She was born and lived her early years in rural southeast Alabama when Jim Crow laws were strictly enforced. Fortunately, at the age of five, Juanita's mother remarried and took her daughter to live in the industrial northeast corner of Ohio. Her mother's hope was that the North would provide greater opportunities, and to some degree it did.

Juanita lived her early years in Ohio during the Great Depression. She was the oldest of five children. As such, she was tasked with many parental responsibilities for her younger siblings as well as the upkeep of their home. Juanita was a curious and bright child who enjoyed school immensely. "It was the only time I really had to myself and I didn't have to cook, clean, or care for my siblings.

During her high school years, Juanita dreamed of becoming a nurse. After high school and during the initial years of WWII, she had an opportunity to join the Women Army Corps (WACs), which would give her a chance to pursue her dream. Her mother put her foot down, forbidding her from leaving home and joining the WACS. Even though Juanita was legally old enough to join on her own, she respected her mother's wishes and stayed put.

During the war, Juanita took a job in a munitions plant to support the war effort, but she never lost sight of her dream to become a nurse. She met a young man and was taken by his handsome and dashing good looks. He had joined the U.S. Marine Corps and would soon be leaving for basic training at Montford Point In Jacksonville, N.C.--the counterpart to Paris Island, S.C. where white recruits underwent basic training. Yes, this was during a time of segregation in the U.S, Marine Corps. After finishing basic training, he returned to Ohio briefly before heading for duty in the South Pacific. Juanita was enraptured by this young man who looked so fit and handsome in his dress blue uniform. She fell in love and told him she would wait for him. At the end of the war, they married. Her new husband took a job in the bustling and growing steel industry. And, soon they started a family.

The early years of their marriage were typical. Juanita stayed home and took care of the house and the children. Her husband was the breadwinner, working long hours in the steel mills. In the late 1940s, they bought a home in a white neighborhood and moved into it with their only child. They were the first black family to do so, making them trailblazers in a way. Life seemed perfect for this young black family as they pursued a middle-class lifestyle in a middle-class neighborhood.

However, soon there was evidence that everything wasn't as perfect as it appeared. Juanita's husband started drinking heavily and living the lifestyle of an alcoholic (night life and extramarital relationships). Juanita was patient and didn't give the drinking much thought. She made excuses for her husband: he had served in WWII, no telling what effect that had on him, and he needed to relax because he worked so hard in the mills. He had purchased them a home in a middle class neighborhood, and now they had kids to clothe and feed.

Juanita's husband's drinking worsened and with that came financial stress. To help out, Juanita took a part-time job cleaning the houses of rich white people who lived in an exclusive area of the city in which they lived. This extra income was necessary to make up for the money her husband was squandering on alcohol and other women. The home life for Juanita and her three children continued to deteriorate as her husband's drinking escalated and with that mounting legal, job, and family problems. Eventually, Juanita's husband lost his job of 20 years because of his drinking. Losing his job caused him to sink further into depression and despair, and his
drinking worsened.

Juanita was determined not to lose her home or to allow her children to suffer further. She decided to divorce her husband at a time when divorce wasn't socially acceptable. To support herself and her three children, she took on additional work cleaning homes. She decided to apply to and was accepted into nursing school. By this time, Juanita was in her 40s and had not been in school for over 20 years. Her lifelong dream to become a nurse was coming to fruition in spite of adversity and a litany of seemingly insurmountable challenges.

Juanita weathered the storm. She never went on welfare or public assistance and didn't lose her family's home. She raised her three sons to be successful and productive members of society. She became a nurse at age 41. For the next 24 years, until her retirement, she displayed an unwavering dedication as a healthcare professional.

For the past 16 years she lived an independent, comfortable, and satisfied life in a new condominium provided by her three sons. This was until her passage on December 14, 2019 at the age of 96 1/2. Her legacy will continue through the service of The Juanita Center LLC.

Juanita's story is one of personal strength in the face of adversity, perseverance, hard work, family support, and above all, faith. She is truly an inspiration and the reason why we chose to name the Center in her honor. We proudly call ourselves The Juanita Center.

In the early 1980s, I unexpectedly received military orders to go from the United States to Japan. This transfer occurred at a critical time in my life. It was a pivotal event that ultimately proved to be transformative. As I look back, the military assignment in Japan saved my life.

I had never been to Japan. Yet, as the plane descended through the clouds and the land below came into view, an intense feeling swept over me, and I had the sense of belonging that I was returning home. As best I can describe it, I felt connected and peaceful.

At the time of my arrival, I could never have imagined that I would spend the next 15 years living in Japan. While there, I experienced a deep sense of spiritualism and discovered a different way of looking at myself and the world in general. I was exposed to and received education in Japanese spirituality. I practiced martial arts, Zazen Meditation, and yoga, all of which deepened my sense of self and the world around me.

For me, the Warrior has strong personal significance, for it was in Japan that I began my life's work as a counselor. To me, he symbolizes the warrior in all of us: our powerful inner strength and ability to overcome and conquer those aspects of life that can rob us of happiness and fulfillment.

There is no contradiction between the name The Juanita Center and our use of the Warrior logo. Together, they represent the powerful feminine energy that resides in all men and women.