INTERVIEW WITH STEPHANIE (LEO):
What made you decide to do El Camino?
I decided to do El Camino after it was first mentioned at CCDA this past November. I was completely drawn to it, and felt like I was committed instantly. Now that there are only days before the walk, I have piled up a list of reasons of why I should not do it. But I am still moving forward with this walk.
What is motivating you to do such a long walk?
I know there is something about walking, specifically a longer walk like this one, that makes it like a mini journey. From start to finish, you do not know what is going to happen. But, entering it and being open to whatever it might bring is so parallel to life. The intentionality in committing to the journey brings a focus and sense of being present that is hard to have in life sometimes.
Have you had any personal experiences with immigrants or refugees?
I am from Akron, Ohio and I’ve taught and coached in the public schools here over the last 10 years. We have a high rate of refugees that have been coming to Akron for years now. I have watched neighborhoods change and have experienced some of the hard realities that people have to deal with. There are prejudices that refugees experience, and extreme obstacles they face daily. Living in this kind of setting has become normal for me, but not for many others.
Stephanie “LEO” Leonardi lives in the Summit Lake neighborhood of Akron Ohio. Where her genuine desire to love and develop relationships with her neighbors plays out daily. Her intentional presence in her neighborhood has helped draw the community closer together and to Christ in real tangible ways.