Welcome back to our ongoing series to introduce you to each other. She’s a Woman on Fire! member and we want you to know her. Please say hello to…
Deirdre (Dee) Martin
Plainfield, New Jersey
WOF member: #00158
Member since: January 7, 2013
Please tell us about YOU, your family and your work. What you are “on fire” about?
My family and I love to LAUGH! We have a weekly family prayer call when we all dial in to a conference line from all over the country. I am laughing as I type this because we do everything but pray on that call! We are a close-knit family, and that weekly call just helps us all to stay in touch with one another. Straight COMEDY for one full hour!
Currently, I am the executive assistant to the director of public affairs and safety in Plainfield, New Jersey. I also am the founder and CEO of Assisting Virtually, LLC. In both positions, I provide administrative support for those called to serve others. My paternal grandparents were small-business entrepreneurs and I always knew I would be too. I am ON FIRE about having a growing business while working full time.
How did you originally connect to Women on Fire?
Woman on Fire member Gail Forest introduced me to Women on Fire. She received an email about a Women on Fire Tea in New York City and encouraged me to join. I enjoyed the Facebook page for about a year and then became a member.
What’s your favorite component of the Women on Fire membership?
I love the connection that Debbie Phillips has with each member. I never expected her to have the incredible interaction that she has with us! I love it!
What is your favorite part of the day?
I am a morning girl! I love getting up before the world wakes up and making it HAPPEN before 6 a.m.!
What is the last book you read that you would recommend to other Women on Fire?
It’s actually a Woman on Fire Book Club book that I continuously read: Fairy Tale Interrupted: A Memoir of Life, Love, and Loss by RoseMarie Terenzio. This book reminds me DAILY how important the job of an executive assistant/virtual assistant really is!
What is the one thing you’re most proud of?
I’ve known my calling as an executive assistant/virtual assistant since I was 14 years old. I am proud that I have taken this gift of administration and turned it into a growing business while working a full-time job.
If you had an unexpected free day, how would you spend it?
More than likely, I would spend it hanging out with friends and family or catching up on much needed rest at home. My place is my true sanctuary, and I love spending time at home.
What is your favorite city in the world?
Plainfield, New Jersey. I work here. I live here. I shop here. I love it here!
Share a special Women on Fire moment or experience.
I attended my first Women on Fire event in June 2014 in New York City. The game changed for me that day because of the enthusiasm in the room. My Facebook post the next day was “Watch out, World! Yesterday changed the game… Now I REALLY feel like I can do anything!”
Name another Woman on Fire who has inspired you, and tell why.
Meredith Schoenberger! Her energy is amazing! She’s the SPARK that all Women on Fire need. I feel her energy in every single piece of correspondence that she sends to us.
What’s your big dream?
I would love be the executive assistant to someone “famous.” My other big dream is to expand Assisting Virtually by owning a virtual office space/business center. My virtual office space would offer virtual assistant services, have a prestigious address and offer all the necessary amenities for a professional meeting atmosphere.
If you had the opportunity to teach a child one strategy that would help to guide her life, what would that be?
It would be to follow her passion. Don’t follow money. If you live out your passion, the money will come. I am a living witness to that.
What is something that we might be surprised to learn about you?
I really don’t like taking pictures! LOL!
Name three women who have influenced your life, and what you’ve learned from each.
My paternal grandmother, Lottie Barber Geter: She was the first small-business entrepreneur I knew. She taught me the importance of customer service and knowing your client to determine their needs.
My mother, Phyllis Crews Martin: We found out she was terminally ill when I was 10 years old. She was a champion, and from her I learned how to keep going no matter what.
Geri Schwartz, the first person to hire me as an administrative assistant: She gave me a typing test and said, “OK, you did horrible on that test, but I’ve got a good feeling about you.” I told her, “If you hire me, I promise I won’t let you down.” She did. And I didn’t let her down.
Who cheers you on?
My village: April, Gail, Aretha, Cheryl, Jennie, Andrea, Denise, Charlinda, Alicia, Kim, Lisa, Portia, Rob, Misty, Stephanie, Tammy, Leonard, Pop, Melissa, Dave, Gloria, Gwen, Robbie, Darria.
What is your favorite “pig-out” food?
Lays potato chips and dip.
What are the top three songs on your iPod right now?
What is the biggest challenge you’ve ever faced? How did you overcome it?
After years of working in the insurance industry, I began my faith journey when I took a $35,000 pay cut and started working for the church. Six months later, the pastor of the church resigned, and we were without a pastor/administrator for a year. I handled all of the day-to-day activities of the church, including being the director of the day care center in the lower level of the church.
I was instrumental in hiring the new pastor, and within a year, he began notifying various church board members that he intended to fire me. I knew a week prior to being terminated that I would be fired. I was devastated. I had given up my corporate job just to be fired from a CHURCH??!!!
I wanted to quit, but I knew deep down inside that I wasn’t supposed to. I met with my own pastor, and he said, “You aren’t the first to be fired and you won’t be the last. Keep going.” So I did. I went to work every day, quietly preparing the church for my termination. I made sure everything was organized for the next person without saying a word to anyone.
Finally, the day came. I put on a RED DRESS, a spring scarf and matching pumps, and off to work I went. Hey, if I was getting fired, I needed at least to be CUTE! I was called into the pastor’s study and sitting there were a deacon, a trustee and my aunt, who served on the trustee board. The conversation was painful, mostly because it was happening in front of the people I admired the most in my life.
I cleaned off my desk, and in my haste, I accidently took the mail for that day. I beat myself up and became completely embarrassed over what happened. My friend invited me over for lunch, and while I was there, her assistant called and said that she needed time off. My friend hired me as her temporary assistant and I started work on MONDAY.
When I went to pack my bag for work, there was the mail that I had accidentally taken from the church. In it, there was a letter saying that the president of the local seminary was looking for an executive assistant. I got the job and my healing began. My ego was damaged, my heart was broken and I would cry while typing most of his letters.
But every day, the president of the seminary would say to me, “I’m not sure what it took for you to get here, but you’re doing a fantastic job, and I’m happy you are here.” I am grateful that I went to work at such a place of healing. Six months later, a pastor I had previously worked for, faxed over an offer letter to work at his new church that included a $35,000 increase. Just BELIEVE.
What is your go-to self-care strategy?
The power of the PURPLE PEN! On my monthly calendar, I write my self-care activities on the calendar in purple ink! If I look at the calendar and there is no purple all week, I know it’s time to stop and do something special for myself. I love spa days with my friends!
When you reflect on your life so far, what is the first word or two that comes to your mind?
More about Deirdre (Dee) Martin…
Deirdre Martin is the CEO of Assisting Virtually, LLC, a company that specializes in executive administrative support for churches, ministries and nonprofit organizations throughout the United States. Born in Gastonia, North Carolina, Dee relocated to New Jersey in 1986 in search of employment and to be near her close-knit family.
You are welcome to say hello to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
She’s A Woman On Fire! feature is compiled by senior writer Becky Adams.