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Posted December 24, 2014 in Community Featured, Beaverdale, Email blast


It’s been a brisk fall and while winter hasn’t yet officially begun, it already feels like it for this freshman Beaverdale resident.

Although no stranger to extreme weather and unseasonably cold temperatures, Ellen Williams hasn’t had to salt her driveway in nearly 25 years. “It’s definitely a kind of body shock you go through when you suddenly have to adapt to a place with four seasons when you’ve spent the last twenty-some years of your life living on a beach.”beaverdaledec

Life on a beach? Sounds great. But things haven’t been all sun and sangria in the sand for Williams.

Just two years ago, change came in the form of a car accident. “It was bad,” said Williams. “No one died, but it jeopardized and ultimately ended what I had planned to be my life-long career.”

Williams has a special place in her heart for fitness. Like several family members before her, she took a particular interest in personal training. What was a hobby turned into a degree and a fulfilling job in a coastal city in Florida. While working with an independently run gym, Williams used her spare time to design ad space, graphics and signs to highlight promotions and events at the gym.

When her doctors told her she would spend up to two years of her life focus on physical therapy rather than physical fitness, Williams was at first hopeless. “It was kind of like your first heartbreak,” she said. “Everything in your chest stings and you can’t reason with what’s happening. It’s unfair and you punch a lot of pillows. But like that middle school break-up it gets better,” Williams said, holding up a small, leather-covered portfolio. “You keep going.”

Being off her feet for some time and out of the gym gave Williams a chance to channel that extra energy into her part-time hobby: graphic design. While her degree didn’t match and her experience was limited, she acquired several small jobs that caught the attention of an acquaintance right here in Iowa.

Ellen Williams, who is facing two years of physical therapy following a car accident, has found a new home and a new job in Iowa

Ellen Williams, who is facing two years of physical therapy following a car accident, has found a new home and a new job in Iowa

“Trust me, it wasn’t my first choice,” said Williams. “Maybe my second, but now that I’m here I’m realizing it was definitely my best choice.”

Enter college connection and long-distance buddy Alyssa Skellenger. While not a designer herself, Alyssa associated with many in the field and saw a spark in Williams’ online portfolio that birthed a full-time opportunity in the metro.

So for now, Williams is trading in the sunscreen afternoons and Disney World visits for a more peaceful life in Beaverdale. But Williams cites herself as one of those “everything happens for a reason” believers. “I think this little house I’m renting and this great job opportunity are well worth the sacrifice.”

As for fitness? Every day is a challenge for Williams, but she savors it. If she’s not exercising her creative muscles, she can be found at the Anytime Fitness on Beaver Avenue. And despite the cold, she’s still up for a mid-morning outdoor jog through the neighborhood. “The cold just motivates me to keep going.” And keep going is exactly what she is doing.


Would you like your home featured in this column in an upcoming issue of Beaverdale Living? If so, email Darren Tromblay at

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