Friday, Mar. 4th 2016

The Diverged Road

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth


Robert Frost’s often quoted poem is most famous for the final stanza, not the first, but for Janelle Vergouven the first passage strikes the most true. She has always stood in the sunny wood. She was born and raised in Harrisonville, to James and Debra. She grew up an only child but her parents would tell you that as a child she always had plenty to say, and had a contagiously positive spirit. She was lucky to have her grandparents as an influence, they all lived close. She fondly remembers her grandmothers, Dorothy and Anna, and how polar opposite they were. Anna was the earthy spirit. She grew snap beans, picked walnuts and pecans, she loved to dance and music would often combine all things spinning through her kitchen. Dorothy was professional, she imparted organization, business acumen and was always there to help Janelle with her homework. This polarity served as a great lesson, to never forget to have fun, but don’t forget to get your job done.

Much as roads and lives progress, she graduated high school in 1994, got a new baby brother Jason, studied, met a great guy named Neil, got married, worked hard, got a good job and then found herself standing at the diverged road. It is a shared experience to find yourself wanting to look down the path of your next big decision as far as you can, but just as Frost so accurately depicts, there is a point where your sight is impeded. Janelle and Neil wanted to have a family, but her manufacturing job presented difficulties towards that desire. Down the one path was an opportunity with Coffelt Land Title in Harrisonville. This was a divergence from her career to this point, didn’t pay as well, and carried with it its’ own unknowns. She was unsure of this road, but, in retrospect, couldn’t be happier with her decision.

“Coffelt is a family company. I know the door is always open and the flexibility and the kindness from everyone has always been so important to me, “ Janelle said.

She started as a receptionist in 1999, then moved up to policy typist, then continued to work hard to train as an examiner. She further learned the trade as an assistant to Jim Hensley, working on joint ventures and audits. In 2007 she became a closer out of the Pleasant Hill office before returning to her hometown of Harrisonville.

“I never wanted to be a closer, I thought it looked stressful and demanding. But once I started doing it, I loved it,” she recalls. “I really enjoy meeting new clients and seeing them around town.”

Having a family was the reason for her to make this decision and she and Neil have two great daughters, Kara and Kelsey. She sees the best of both herself and Neil in the girls. Much like a previous generation’s polarity, Kara has her mom’s personality and Kelsey acts more like her dad. Kara is organized, diligent and has her goals set to be a teacher. Kelsey has a love for animals and is a bit more carefree and Janelle could see her developing that into a career as a veterinarian or dog trainer.

Janelle and Neil now keep busy with the family life of choir performances, softball games and practices, baking Grandma Dorothy’s sugar cookies with the girls and looking forward further down the road. They have started to travel more now that the kids have grown a bit. They went to Disney world recently, and Janelle passed on her fondness for Mickey and Minnie and got a special room where the mousey pair would visit the family. (She went to Disney when she was three and has been known to keep a discerning eye for cool mouse memorabilia to add to her collection.)

They are going with the kids to Colorado in August, have sights on getting to the East Coast, catching fish up in Canada and then go drink a Corona on a beach in Mexico, toes in the sand.

As both her grandmothers’ would want, Janelle works hard but then strives to keep things light. It is not uncommon to hear her singing in the Harrisonville office and she has been known to instigate office snowball fights (paper snow balls fly better). She advises to love every day like it’s the weekend. To wake up, put a smile on your face and find positivity in everything.


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