OUR BLOG

Want to know what's on our mind? Read on!

Cara’s Hard-Working Moms

Cara Staff

Nearly 100 strong moms are currently transforming their life and their family at Cara (and hundreds more are among our alumni). In honor of Mother’s Day, we share just a few of our favorite stories of hard-working moms! More…

Philile Mabuza, Cara Graduate, talks about her joy in creating a future for her daughter.

Cara Staff

Creating a future for her daughter was Philile’s motivation to change.

Two years ago, Philile’s situation was bleak. She’d just fled her home country in hopes of escaping her abusive husband. It was a bold move that probably saved her life.

Philile found herself living in a shelter with her two teenage children. They’d just lost everything: their home, their savings, the status they’d held in their own country, even their family. But somehow, Philile made sure that her kids held on to the one thing they had left – a belief that the future could be bright.

Despite their hardship, Philile encouraged her daughter to dream, and dream big. Her daughter listened, and set her sights on attending college, and the medical school, with the ultimate goal of becoming a pediatrician.

Faced with an impossible situation, Philile did what moms do when hard times hit. She pushed up her sleeves, put on a brave face, and she got to work to create a better life for her kids. Philile worked to be granted asylum status, allowing them to remain in the country and for her to work legally. She found Cara and poured herself into the program. She applied for job, after job, after job. And she never gave up.

Fast forward, Philile has the job of her dreams. She was just promoted to Philanthropy Coordinator in the Programs Neuro Department at Northwestern Medicine. They’ve moved out of the shelter and into an apartment they can finally call home. Her daughter has graduated high school, and she’s now studying at Loyola’s Arrupe College, having been awarded a full scholarship. She’s created an incredible transformation for herself and her family. Philile is so grateful for the help she received.

In June, she made an unsolicited $50 donation to Cara so she could help others the way she’s been helped. The beautiful note she included said, “It is a very small amount, but it is from a grateful heart.”

Nearly 100 strong moms are currently transforming their life and their family at Cara (and hundreds more are among our alumni). Click here to read more stories of our hard-working moms!

Help a hard-working mom at Cara unlock their power and purpose to rebuild their family. Click here to donate.

Mary Owens, Cara’s Founding Mom, shares how to raise compassionate children.

Cara Staff

“The most important thing to remember is that children learn from the examples they see from us as parents and grandparents.

“We have five grown children and 22 grandkids, and they’ve all seen how involved we’ve been in Cara for the last 28 years. It’s ‘we.’ It’s Tom and me. Our children see us give our time and financial support to programs we believe in. They know what we are doing with Cara, and they’ve all learned by example.

“When raising my kids, I instilled in them the importance of being sensitive to people who didn’t have the same advantages they had. I encouraged them to sign up for every service opportunity they could through school, whether it was a food drive or visiting a nursing home.

“Each of our grandchildren have been involved in some sort with Cara. They’ve learned so much about how fortunate they are. And they have all given back to some extent.

“Giving back is a family activity. The grandkids are very proud of their parents who are involved as well. All of our kids have served on the Board at least once. We instilled service into them. This is what we want to be known for as a family.”

Nearly 100 strong moms are currently transforming their life and their family at Cara (and hundreds more are among our alumni). Click here to read more stories of our hard-working moms!

Help a hard-working mom at Cara unlock their power and purpose to rebuild their family. Click here to donate.

Jill Lewandowski, Cara Graduate and Staff Member, tells how she found her strength and courage.

Cara Staff

A baby’s first twelve months are full of milestones; their first smile, first words, first steps. But the first birthday? That’s probably a bigger milestone for mom and dad. “He’s big and he’s alive!” Jill laughs, talking about her son, Santi, who is celebrating his first birthday this weekend with a Mickey Mouse party.

Jill’s little family is fairly new, but she’s been a part of the Cara family for a long time. Jill originally came to Cara as a participant and, after graduating from the program, became a staff member. For more than four years, she’s worked as an Admissions Specialist, helping Cara’s new participants get acclimated to the journey they are just beginning – a role that much like motherhood required a mixture of strength and compassion.

These attributes helped Jill when she found herself feeling nervous about being a first-time mom. “Before he was born, I wasn’t sure how I would be able to handle everything. But then I saw him and I knew everything was going to be fine. It was like a switch flipped, I couldn’t believe how natural it was.

“I learned that being a mother isn’t just keeping a child healthy, it’s raising them and shaping his life. It’s my job to take care of him and to teach him things, to teach him his values,” she continues. “My experience at Cara gave me the confidence to be a mom and to make decisions that affect someone’s life. Cara taught me what I want to instill in my son.”

Santi’s birthday is extra special for Jill and her family. Jill’s husband is from Mexico where, unlike the United States, they celebrate Mother’s Day on the same date every year – May 10th. That just happens to be Santi’s birthday, the day Jill became a mom. It promises to be an extra-special day for their family.

Nearly 100 strong moms are currently transforming their life and their family at Cara (and hundreds more are among our alumni). Click here to read more stories of our hard-working moms!

Help a hard-working mom at Cara unlock their power and purpose to rebuild their family. Click here to donate.

Maria Kim, Cara President & CEO, on the lessons her mother taught her.

Cara Staff

My mom is a tough-as-nails cutie pie who taught me to never forget where I came from.

Mom grew up at a far too early age – amid the sounds and sirens of the Korean War. She immigrated to this country as a nursing student with a dream and was an operating room nurse for 50 years. She loved caring for people, making sure they were comfortable even if they were hurting, cracking jokes to lighten the mood, and holding her own with doctors who could sometimes be “extra.”

As a parent, she always modeled this amazing behavior of what it meant to work hard, to be loyal, to live in community with others, to have faith, to study, to have fashion intuition, to believe that the American dream was actually a legit thing. And she never stopped learning. She kept at her education even after her nursing degree, pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Behavioral Science at National Lewis University so she could grow as a leader.

This part of me is what it is because I watched her live her career in service to others for so many decades. I hope she knows that, because of the example she set, this is intrinsically part of my DNA.

I am strong and beautiful and flawed and vulnerable because my mom taught me that it is not just ok to be so, but kind of awesome. No matter how old I get, I am still always wanting her to be proud of me – and I feel so relieved when I see her like my posts on Facebook.

When I talk about how tough stuff can be, she has to go and say something like, “At ten years old, I walked for marathon lengths with your aunt and uncle on my arm with bombs flying overhead,” and I quickly shut up. This reminds me that our adversity defines us and that we must wear it like a badge, not a scar.

In my role leading Cara, I am reminded of how powerful that lesson can be each and every day. We see hundreds of moms – and dads, sisters, and brothers – who won’t let their past stop their future. They can be whatever they want to be because deep down they have the power and purpose to do so – and we are helping them unlock it.

I love being with my mom. She makes me feel like home. My hope for you is that wherever and whoever you are spending this day with, you have that same feeling of warmth, love, and community.

Here’s to all the hard-working moms!

Maria Kim

Nearly 100 strong moms are currently transforming their life and their family at Cara (and hundreds more are among our alumni). Click here to read more stories of our hard-working moms!

Help a hard-working mom at Cara unlock their power and purpose to rebuild their family. Click here to donate.

SHOWING: 1 OF 1