Because the women of Caroline Center have experienced more of life’s ups and downs in their short lives than many people 2 and 3 times their age, you forget just how young these women really are. Most of them are under 40. The majority are in their twenties and early 30’s. Some are barely out of their teens. Yet, when you listen to their sagas, it’s as if they’ve each lived a hundred life times. It’s impossible not to be moved by their stories of struggle and survival. Not to be won over by their courage and determination or overcome with love and admiration. And then there are those like Charlene who, upon hearing her story, you just want to wrap your arms around in a tight and protective maternal embrace.
At 20, Charlene is one of the youngest of the Caroline Center CNA candidates. She is soft-spoken and gentle. Almost ethereal. She is also extremely fragile. Charlene grew up in foster care and sustained a few emotional scars in the process. She entered the program when she was just 7. Like many, her father was “missing in action”. Her mother suffered severe depression after the shooting death of an older son and the loss of her job. When the police came to take Charlene and her siblings away, she was told they were “going on vacation.” Charlene never returned home again. Her eyes tear up when the subject is mentioned. It is not something she easily talks about nor particularly wants to.
“Everything bad you’ve ever heard about foster care…is true. The worse things that can happen…happened to me,” is all she will say. And we leave it at that.
“They tried to dim my light…” Charlene begins, but then her voice trails off and she stares into space, lost in thought. “They” may have tried to dim Charlene’s light, but here she sits. Stronger than she looks or knows…and still shining. She drifts back to the conversation and continues, mystified.
As an alternative to an angelic career, she enrolled in the Certified Nursing Assistant program at Caroline Center where she is currently learning just how special she is right here on earth and just how much she really has to give. As you know, she could not be in a more nurturing environment than Caroline Center.
Instead, I just sit back and bask in her glow.
Help others like Charlene keep their lights burning bright.Click her for more information.