Q&A with Donna Filadelfia: Living an active lifestyle

Apple Valley resident Donna Filadelfia is currently serving as chapter president for the Assistance League of Victor Valley. But her story begins in the 1930s.

Her parents met and became engaged early in the Depression. As her mother completed the requirements to become a teacher, her dad moved to California to find work.

“He actually hitchhiked from Texas to California in 1935 to work as a cowboy and tour guide at a dude ranch in the San Fernando Valley,” Filadelfia said. He eventually secured a job as a machinist before her mother joined him six years later. They married in Las Vegas and settled in a small Los Angeles apartment. Filadelfia arrived two years later in the midst of World War II and eventually accepted that being an only child had some distinct advantages.

The small family moved to Fullerton in the mid ’50s where Filadelfia attended junior high through community college. Not long after earning her associate’s degree in dental assisting, she met Don Filadelfia who had just started his career with Pacific Lighting after spending three years in England for the Air Force. They married some two years later.

While raising their two children, Sharon and Dan, Donna worked in a variety of positions — dental assistant, church office secretary, purchasing agent and community college secretary. Not long after moving to the High Desert, she decided to return to college to complete her education, a bachelor’s degree in human development, and later a master of arts degree in education while simultaneously working as a career center technician at Victor Valley College.

At age 51, she applied for and was hired to fill a position as a counselor at VVC and was employed there until retiring in 2003. She’s been a member of American Association of University Women for more than 20 years as well as being a member/volunteer in Assistance League of Victor Valley for more than eight years.

“When we are able, Don and I enjoy traveling in our motorhome,” she said. “We joined an RV group a few years ago and have enjoyed exploring new places and the camaraderie of sharing these experiences with our RVing friends.”

Q: What brings you joy?
A: Simple things, a beautiful sunrise or sunset, having a meaningful conversation with family members or friends, sharing a picturesque view of nature such as the Grand Tetons or Yellowstone with Don, finishing a challenging project and seeing our grown children venture forth in life, making the most of their education, talents and experience to succeed in their chosen career fields while finding fulfillment in their lives.

Q: Any hobbies?
A: I love to travel with my husband and enjoy reading. Being an active member of Assistance League of Victor Valley is what I consider to be a hobby, of sorts. Being a volunteer in our chapter has given me the opportunity to use past experience, interests and abilities within a variety of roles in our chapter while learning some new skills along the way.

Q: What are the top three issues facing the United States today and what’s your take on them?
A: (1) Polarization within our political parties is of concern to me — bitter partisan politics have overshadowed the need to find consensus on issues that affect the way we live our day-to-day lives.
(2) Lack of transparency — I would like to see a move toward a more accountable government. There is a lack of transparency in the decision-making process — as with the midnight, backroom bargaining that took place on the last day of 2012. Would these leaders be willing to have their decisions scrutinized by us, the American electorate? I wonder how many backroom deals have been made that will increase spending and taxation to appease special interests?
(3) Complex tax policy — As I understand it, our tax code is a 70,000-page document and it costs us billions of dollars every year to stay in compliance with that code. As a lay person, I certainly can’t offer an simple solution, but it would seem to me that a less complex tax code that aims to treat all Americas fairly is long overdue.

Q: What’s on your “bucket list?”
A: My bucket list is relatively short, as I’ve had several years to mark off some of my aspirations. However — I must admit, I still have a few items that remain. Travel to England, Ireland and revisit Italy. Drive coast to coast in our motorhome — exploring new places as we go. Cruise to Alaska. Ride in a hot air balloon. Swim with dolphins. Take a family trip to anywhere...

Q: If you could ask God any question, what would you ask?
A: What is it that people see as they pass from this life to the next? However, on a more pragmatic note, I am confident that God answers questions — I ask them often but it has taken me years to realize that His answers are not usually what I had envisioned. Nevertheless, I trust that as each day unfolds He will meet me where I am, providing opportunities to grow, learn and give.

Q: Who are three people you admire and why?
A: My mother. I admired her quiet strength, determination, well-defined work ethic and strong faith — the qualities that sustained her throughout her long life. As I age, I have an even greater appreciation of the sacrifices she made in her life to provide the comfortable and loving home in which I grew up.
Juanita Chou is a person I have respected and admired for several years. As a community college counselor, she goes above and beyond to encourage, inspire, challenge and mentor students, faculty, friends to help them formulate and reach the objectives they have set for themselves. When I was a student, she encouraged me to continue my education and as a fellow faculty member, Juanita took the time and effort to serve as my mentor.
Survivors! Over the years, I have become increasingly mindful of friends and family who have survived severe trials in their lives — whether it be from death of a loved one or from compromised health or mobility issues due to suffering the effects of a catastrophic illness. In spite of these challenges, they persevered, seemed to be able to focus on the positive and cherish each new day. I have learned the true meaning of hope, determination, fortitude and faith through their victories.

Q: Tell us about your sense of humor. Who makes you laugh?
A: Humor is my stress reliever! I’ve learned not to take me too seriously and often find myself laughing at something nonsensical that I have said or done. Our dog, Charlie, often makes me laugh with his antics. And as avid RVers, Don and I have found that every trip will bring with it some exasperating experience that often becomes a humorous tale to share with others — later, when our level of frustration has subsided.

Q: What are the key ideas that form your values and outlook?
A: I believe in the worth of every person — in her or his potential to succeed in life, in spite of the obstacles along the road of life’s journey. The catalyst to unlocking those hidden strengths might be linked to a life event, an inspiring teacher or influential friend who has taken the time to uncover the person within that was too timid to emerge.

Q: Tell us about your faith.
A: I am a Christian and trust that my life is in God’s hands. In good times and in bad — I know He is with me to provide strength, wisdom, comfort and peace.

Q: What are the top three issues facing the local community, and what’s your take on them?
A: (1) The importance of community support of small local businesses can have a positive impact on our local economy. I have been delighted to find that almost everything that we need I am able to find in local businesses — many of them owned and operated by Apple Valley families.
(2) We need more safe bike paths. We’ve come a long way in recent years, but it could be better if we had more well marked, wide and continuous pathways that would allow families to enjoy this healthful activity together.
(3) And, I long for direct and less congested routes to go from east to west without waiting through the myriad of traffic signals along the way. I’ve read that projects are “in the works” — I’m just putting in my “two cents” wish that tomorrow would arrive sooner!

Q: Have you ever had a close brush with death?
A: If I have, I was not aware that my demise was eminent — I suppose that ignorance is bliss.

Q: What could the America of yesterday teach the America of tomorrow?
A: My grandparents survived what they called the Dust Bowl Depression in the Texas Panhandle. They were self-sufficient, hard working, frugal yet generous to share what they had with others in need. They exemplify to me the best of the America of yesterday in that they lived within their means, made the best of their difficult circumstances and provided a solid base from which my mother and uncles launched successful, productive lives. The America of tomorrow must learn that if resources are limited, we must curtail spending — money, fuel, and time — to spend only what we can afford, to not burden future generations with our excesses.

Q: When you contemplate the meaning of your life, what do you conclude?
A: I believe that the meaning of my life is linked to being intuitive and caring by taking the time to support others — whether it be to listen attentively, to offer encouragement, to share in their joy or pain — to be open to making a positive difference in the day of another. My experience as a community college counselor and career planning class instructor helped me to find meaning and purpose in life by encouraging students to explore their aspirations and formulate their objectives. Whether it was when facilitating a group of students in class or working with a student to create an educational plan — the purpose was the same — to inspire and challenge students to maximize their potential, to develop skills and increase knowledge by attending classes, acquiring effective study habits to achieve their educational goals. Occasionally I have had the opportunity to cross paths with former students and find it gratifying to learn the direction their lives have taken.

Q: Aside from the obvious, when you count your blessings, what are you grateful for?
A: My husband Don and I have been married for almost 48 years. Through the years we have learned the “dance” that is needed to remain together — I suppose it is because we have been listening to the same song. I am also grateful for our two beautiful children, Sharon and Dan. They have grown up to be thoughtful, caring individuals who are excelling in their chosen career fields — Don and I are proud to be their parents. And, finally, I am thankful for family members and friends who have touched my life in so many ways over the years — for his or her kind words and gestures — for the time they took to share a bit of themselves with me.

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to say, anything you’d like to get off your chest?
A: I enjoy living in Apple Valley! I love the weather, the clear skies, the beautiful vista of mountains and hills that surround our valley. But, even more than the climate and view — we have had the privilege of cultivating friendships with some wonderful people. Life is good!

Q: How can readers get a hold of you?
A: DLFilly686@msn.com.

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