I never met Carl Perkins, but I listened to his music as a child; little did I know what an impact this man’s dream would have on my family and my destiny.
It all started on a warm November evening in 1988. I was a 12-year-old little girl. I was home alone with my three younger siblings watching them, not understanding why my parents abruptly left the house and left me in charge. I was only 12 at the time and didn’t understand what was going on. My younger sister Melissa said that they were at the “Center.” I could only think why. We lived downtown, just a two minute bike ride from the Center that we visited so many times. So I hopped on my bike and rode up to the Center to see what was going on. I leaned my bike against the building and headed inside. Flash forward an hour later, and I am in the car with strangers and driving away crying as I saw my bicycle leaned against the building, knowing that it would not go with me and I would never go home again. That 12-year-old girl wanted to go home so bad at the time. But as time has went by and I sit here writing this letter at 35-years-old, I realize that moment in '88 was so pivotal in redirecting my path in life and broke the cycle my siblings and I were living in. Over the next six years, my life experience of growing up as a ward of the state was in itself a journey, but one thing I learned on that journey was what life, family, unconditional love and dreams meant and what they were supposed to be and could be. I had a new reality, and I took hold of it. At 18-years-old, I married my high school sweetheart and set sail on my life. I stand before the world today as a testament to what perseverance and drive and hope can do in your life. The Center stepped in and gave mine and my siblings' lives hope and options for a better life. We could at last break the cycle, and we have chosen to. I am a 35-year-old wife, mother and sister who has achieved all the dreams I have set for myself thus far. I am the mother of two beautiful children, ages 13 and 11. I have been married for 16 years to a man whose mission in life is to make all my dreams come true and give me the love I never had. I own my own successful business, and I hope to give my children an opportunity in life to do all they dream to do. My three siblings are all doing amazing, and between us, there are seven children being raised in amazing loving homes who will never know the life that we lived as children and that so many other unfortunate children have. The cycle has been broken here in our family. My heart bursts every Thanksgiving when we all get together with our children in my own beautiful home. My home is so full of love, laughter and hope for a better tomorrow on that day. It is my favorite day of the year, which was made possible by the Carl Perkins Center.
I cannot thank the Center enough for what they did for my family. My life is and always will be a constant testament to what caring strangers and a whole lot of donations from generous people like yourself can do.