Renee Goodwin of Colombo Construction will receive the best Mother's Day gift any mother could ask for – her soldier son, John, will return from Iraq on May 16 where he has been serving with the Army's military police. Renee is counting down the days until his arrival. "Thinking about it makes me cry," she says. "I get pretty emotional when it comes to my kids."
Once he's back in the United States, the Goodwin family has made many plans to celebrate – a trip to San Diego, Disneyland, a Los Angeles Dodgers game in style complete with limousine service and dinner at Wolfgang Puck's. Also, the first chance she gets, Renee plans on making John's favorite family recipe: Frito Chili Pie.
|"I was amazed at how involved everyone was in their community."|
Growing up in East Lansing, Michigan, Renee and her two boys, Sean now 26, and John now 21, were avid sports enthusiasts. Each year she made sure to take them to a professional game – Detroit Tigers, Pistons, and Red Wings.
The boys also share an artistic talent. Sean currently works in the design department for Color Me Mine's corporate offices in Glendale. John will also be leaving his creative mark in Iraq with a mural for his unit.
Renee, a project manager, who's found a niche building schools, started out wanting to be an EMT and a nurse flying med flight. She took a new path, and with the help of family friend, she got her first job in the construction industry in 1985. When she started in the construction business, she didn't realize that there would be such a small percentage of women in her chosen field. "It's a lot better now than it was, but it is still nowhere near equal," she says.
Four and a half years ago when she and her boys were deciding on whether or not to move to California, Renee says the one thing that stood out to her about Bakersfield was the incredible sense of community. "I was amazed at how involved everyone was in their community. The people are very generous and they don't realize that it's not like that every place in the world," she says.
Renee definitely does her part to help the community, and says she has met many "amazing" people. She volunteers for CASA, Links for Life, Kern County Museum, Cooks from the Valley, and Bakersfield North Rotary. She also loves to read, cook, sew, and quilt. Her favorite book is "Harry Potter."
Frito Chili Pie: 1 bag BBQ Chili Fritos; 1 can Hormel Chili, no beans; 1 onion, finely chopped (optional); 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Pour the bag of Fritos into a baking pan, cover with chili, mix in onions and cheese, bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes. Bake until golden on top and cheese is melted.