Tina Husted – Setting an Open Table

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INTRO-FULL-PAGE-Tina-w-Chihuly-web-2 An accomplished elite masters marathon runner. An artist. A licensed real estate broker. A trained physical therapist. A dedicated and loving mother. A silver Life Master in bridge who played against Bill Gates (yes, THAT Bill Gates). A church mission leader. The second lady of Ohio as the wife of Lt. Governor Jon Husted. 

You may think this represents a group of people, but surprisingly, it does not. These personas, these passions and talents reside in just one petite, driven and accomplished woman named Tina Husted.

Tina can say she has mastered many things in her young life, but she gives most credit for her path and life moments to what she deems as “God winks.”

The Journey Begins

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“A few years ago, I read a book by Squire Rushnell called When God Winks at You, and through it, I recognized God’s guiding hand throughout my life,” Tina begins. “I believe that we find our path by those ‘winks’ that occur.” She considers her very first — her conception. “My mother and father were Mt. Gilead high school sweethearts.

My mother was pregnant before they were married, and things could have gone a completely different direction, but they married….and my mother really, really wanted a girl. God had a plan.” Her parents raised Tina and her two brothers in the small town of Bucyrus, working hard to live the American Dream.

But Tina had another life-altering wink years later when, at 19, she discovered that her parents were divorcing. Yet this family divide became a catalyst to propel Tina to value the backbone of the American dream: hard work, embracing family, giving back and honoring God. “Sadly, we lost our father in 2006 to brain cancer. His example of working hard and taking personal responsibility resonates with me to this day,” reminisces Tina.

After their loss, Tina’s family wanted to memorialize their father by establishing Dan’s Fund at the James Cancer Hospital. “Dad participated in many clinical trials knowing that a cure for him was unlikely, but that he would help others by participating in research.” They raised over 150K for brain cancer research.

An Ohio University alumnus, she ran track, studied physical therapy and graduated summa cum laude. “I have a tremendous work ethic. I cannot sit back and be an observer.” She continues to hold an active physical therapy license in the state of Ohio. Upon graduating, Tina moved to Atlanta, managed a clinic and worked with many athletes. A wink came just a couple of years later in 1996 when she was still residing in Atlanta. “I was in a hurry and hopped in my car during a horrific storm. I did not fasten my seatbelt, which I normally did. While I was driving, a tree fell on my car and totaled it. In fact, it hit so hard that the impact flattened all four tires.

The fact that I did not have my seatbelt on was a true God wink, as I would have been stuck in the seat and crushed under the weight of that tree. It was a freak accident. Thankfully, I ended up with only a concussion and some damaged teeth, but otherwise walked away.” One year later, she had purchased a condominium, which was in a valley suburb. A category five tornado swept over Atlanta and dropped down just a half mile from where she lived. It decimated all of Dunwoody, inclusive of nine miles of homes to the east. And she survived…saved by yet another God wink.

The Next Big Thing

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“I believe unique paths are placed before us and we’ve no idea what is in store until we choose one.” In true form, Tina has taken various paths in her life, including marathon running. “One of my best friends, Nikki McCarthy (Sam’s Fans) asked me and Jon to sign up for a ‘warrior dash.’” Loving a good challenge, Tina and Jon were all in. In 2011, training ensued, and thus began Tina’s impressive list of marathon accomplishments.

She is a Womens Champion of the 2014 Columbus Cap City Half Marathon. At the Boston Marathon in 2013 she earned the coveted “elite start,” only to have another God wink redirect her from the bomb site. Tina is also a five-time women’s Arnold Classic Pump and Run Champion and a two-time finisher in the JFK 50 mile, the oldest and most challenging foot race in the U.S. (best finish: women’s 8th place with a time of 7:22).

Her personal best of 2:46 while winning the 2014 Philadelphia Marathon women’s masters title (as well as finishing 7th woman overall) was a culmination of many years of hard training and personal sacrifice. But in the end Tina said, “It was fitting that I ran my last competitive marathon in Columbus in 2015.”

In that final marathon, she was a top fundraiser for Nationwide Children’s Hospital. “It was such a meaningful way to conclude a truly special journey,” Tina reflected.  Due to a back injury she no longer competes. Most recently Tina started a chapter of Fellowship of Christian Athletes at Hastings Middle School to continue her work with athletes.

Tina’s artistic side became more evident when interest in real estate became a reality — in 2000 she received her real estate license and earned her broker’s license in 2006. Currently she is an associate broker with Street Sotheby’s International Realty. “There is a creative piece about helping people find their perfect home,” Tina said. That is an understatement. She has sold well over $80 million of real estate, rehabbed several homes and has focused on buyers and sellers, assisting agent growth/development and tackling broker-related issues.

The Art Wink

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“Truthfully, I am an artist at my core. It’s a God-given ability,” Tina says with a smile. Baking, cooking, knitting and singing with her church choir are some of her creative outlets. Tina promptly produced a pink headband she had made for her neighbor’s daughter. While she has had no formal art training, her creative spirit persists, and to no one’s surprise, she is good at it — really good. She picked up a paintbrush and produced some personal pieces for close friends.

Early in her art pursuits, Tina created with pastels and she is now toying with acrylics. “I love to paint nature, people and  animals. I love to capture the light and how it reflects on the world.” She noted that her next vision is perhaps a series of dogs. “Maybe I’ll paint Rosie, our new blue heeler puppy (a campaign promise Jon gave their girls),” muses Tina. “Finding Rosie, now THAT was a God wink!” She has created 200+ pieces of art within the last five years. You can see some of her creations at www.Tinaspastels.com.

A Seat at the Table

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Eight years ago, Tina and her husband Jon discovered their church home at Riverside United Methodist. Until then, Tina had not made faith a central part of her life. When their children began attending the RUMC pre-school, the Husted’s faith grew. As Tina puts it, “God started tugging at our hearts. That was exactly where we were supposed to be.” Growing up in Bucyrus, Tina had neighbors who had loved 12 foster kids in addition to their own four children.

Jon (then Ohio secretary of state) and Tina attended the National Association of Secretaries of State conference in Tennessee and their lives were forever changed by one performer there. Country singer Jimmy Wayne had been a foster child who was abandoned at a bus station by his mother when he was thirteen years old.

The song he sang for the Husteds, entitled “I Love You This Much,” is about his life and anger towards his father for deserting him and a premonition that came to him at his father’s funeral: the cross of Jesus hanging above the casket. The song is a reference to Wayne’s book, Walk to Beautiful. His emotional journey and story deeply touched both Jon and Tina. The God wink came when Jon met Amber Donovan in Cleveland, Ohio, who was a mission leader with the Open Table movement.

Originally initiated in Arizona, Open Table currently has licenses in twenty states. Tina Husted is leading the charge to expand the non-profit in Ohio by bringing it to Columbus. Her passion for the Open Table movement grew from her interest in Jimmy Wayne and his foster care story coupled with work with CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) and her childhood neighbors who were foster parents to many.

“This is a beautiful way to change a life forever. It honors Jesus’ new commandment to ‘love one another as I have loved you’ (John 13:34),” says Tina.  The movement is an opportunity for individuals to support homeless youth who have aged out of the foster care system (now at 21 years of age) and who need mentoring, support and love. “Real change doesn’t come by just throwing money at problems. Change begins through relationships…teaching young adults to learn financial responsibility, a job skill, confidence and most importantly, feeling like they have a ‘family of people’ who care about them,” Tina says. And it is happening.

Tina just confirmed an operating license for Columbus, Ohio, on January 25, 2019. One out of five foster children become homeless after aging out of the foster program, and 20-40% become trafficked. The model brings 6-8 mentors together to support five former foster children and guide them from homelessness to prosperity. Tina’s initial goal is to start 5 tables in 2019, each serving one youth but to grow it to many more. Several states across the country are serving hundreds of youth.

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“This mission is about guiding young adults who are coming out of foster care, through no fault of their own, who find themselves homeless, and to mentor them to be an educated, loving, and functioning adult.” The Open Table’s mission is grounded in relationships – the model has consistently proven that relationships transform communities.

On the board of directors for the Franklin County CASA for four years, Tina knows that volunteering can make a difference. She will continue her association with CASA in 2019 as a member of the board of directors at the state level. “We can each make a big footprint on someone else’s life,” says Tina.

She believes that the Open Table movement will align with the current governor’s plans. “I think he (Mike DeWine) will be known as the “children’s governor.” It has been so impactful to see how he and Fran interact with and love children, especially those in need. They are down-to-earth people who care about real issues our state faces, particularly foster care due to the opioid crisis.”

Where There is Love

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“Family is everything. It is the backbone to the success of people and communities. For me, it was heartbreaking at a young age to watch my family split up, yet family is the catalyst that drives me to this day,” Tina says.  She is a mother of three and her life, a very public one, plays this out every day. “It is hard to be married to a public official. Jon and I have certainly had our highs and lows.”

When asked what people think of when they think of her, Tina hopes the words that resonate are “compassionate love.” “Love encompasses so many things: forgiveness, open arms, acceptance, non-judgmental behavior — a place all are welcome. That is what we (Jon and I) strive for in our marriage, in our family, and in our public lives.”

And what else does she believe? “God winks…sometimes large, often small and sometimes unrealized, until days, weeks, months, or years have passed, are always present,” Tina reflected.

“And I don’t think there is anything special about me. God is winking at each of us,” Tina concluded. “He is using our circumstances, the things around us, and the people around us to give us the nudges we need so we take the positive next step forward.”

To support, become a mentor or learn more about the Open Table, you can find out more at www.theopentable.org.

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