Village People: A life of service provides ample rewards for Villager Mona Knittle
Mona Knittle is in her third year with the Head Start program at West Sedona School, currently a family advocate, and taking classes to earn her Family Services Certification.
“Working with all these kids, they are a precious gift," said Knittle.
She loves giving families resources and input that empower them in their decision-making, and she loves the kids. When she’s not being paid to work with kids, Mona is volunteering to work with kids, or playing with kids, or talking to kids, or preparing a lesson to teach kids, or a craft to do with kids, or thinking about how to help kids, or interacting with the parents of kids.
Yes, Mona loves kids.
Six years ago, Mona started High Five, a community outreach to kids. The following year, her church recognized her as Teacher of the Year for Arizona-Southern Nevada. She completed a certificate in Children’s Ministry that entailed 20 courses including child development, lesson planning, safety for kids/teachers, how to help a child/family going through a crises, and more.
“I love teaching kids about Jesus, about a loving God who loves them no matter what," she said.
Raised on the “Big Island” (Hawaii) and spending summers with her maternal grandparents on Lanai (her birthplace), Mona learned to love fishing (grandpa fished for additional income), the outdoors, and family...lots of family.
Her siblings and cousins spent a lot of time at her grandparents' “beach house” where they raised chickens, had vegetable gardens and cooked freshly caught fish on the beach. She helped Grandpa deliver to customers and remembers going with him to deliver fish at a cockfight.
One English class short of a BA from UH at Hilo, Mona moved back to Lanai and started a career in baking/pastries.
Gary Wald hired Mona to work for him. He moved to Sedona in ’89 and invited Mona to help him with his new venture, Desert Flour Bakery, which she eventually managed until an injury forced her to resign.
She taught herself jewelry-making, specifically the art of paper beads (Elements of Aloha). Her amazing work is displayed at Hart of Arizona in Old Town Cottonwood and on her personal Facebook page: Mona S Knittle.
She describes her 16-year-old daughter Hannah as a strong, confident child who “calls me out when I’m wrong” and “a gift from God from the very beginning. He gave me exactly what I needed.” Mona’s eyes light up and her voice softens as she says, “She makes me a better mom.”
October 18, 2014 Mona became Mrs. Matthew Knittle. They met at church. She was trying to be friendly to the new guy. He saw her in a completely different light than mere friendship and intruded into her safe life. “Now, it feels like we’ve been together forever.”
“If I hadn’t met Matt I’d be in Portland or a missionary in South America working with kids. Even as a little girl I dreamt of being a missionary.” (Portland because a dear friend lives there and there’s a lot of opportunity to fly fish – Mona’s other love.)
Jim Cunningham, Jr. is a pastor, husband, father, lover of people, friend, neighbor, counselor, teacher, book collector, and jack-of-all-trades. Meet him here each month to become acquainted with yet another Village resident.