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Dian, Cara Alum, teaches her son to love and care about everyone.

Mother's Day : Dian and Hakeem

Dian is one of our alumni working on the front lines making a big difference in the community. It’s who she is; a firm believer that we should all care about the well-being of others. “Whether you are a billionaire or someone experiencing homelessness, everyone deserves respect and care,”  she says with absolute certainty.

So when Dian had the option of staying home during this crisis, it was a no-brainer. She knew her work with SEIU Building Maintenance provided the residents in her assigned building, many of whom are elderly, with a safe and clean place to live. She cares deeply about them. 

But there is one person she loves and cares about above all: her son, Hakeem.

Hakeem has always been the driving force behind Dian’s Cara journey. “I found out I was pregnant right before I came to Cara. I had been sober for two years and needed a job. I had to support my son, but I didn’t have any work experience.” 

Dian was fully aware that she faced significant barriers to employment. Before celebrating two years of sobriety, she battled addiction for over a decade. She had a background that she needed help getting expunged. And now, she was about to be a mom having grown up without one as a ward of the state.

Refusing to be defined by her past, Dian joined Cara in 2008 and got her first job through Cleanslate, Cara’s social enterprise that provides transitional employment opportunities in exterior maintenance services. Shortly after, Hakeem was born and changed her life forever.“My purpose became loving my son and making sure he knows how to love everyone around him.” 

Hakeem grew up learning how to care about others, just like his mom, and the Cara and Cleanslate community loved him right back. “We consider Cara as our family; people who care about us.” Our community lovingly named Hakeem “The Cara Baby” because he grew up regularly attending Motivations.

Since the COVID-19 outbreak began, Dian continued to work full-time in the evenings, taking every precaution to keep herself and her son safe. During the day, she takes on the role of Hakeem’s teacher, so that he can keep up with school.  

“Being a single parent is hard, especially during these times, but the joy far outweighs the hardship. Hakeem has no idea how much joy he gives me. He won’t understand until he becomes a parent.”

We are grateful for Dian not just on Mother’s Day but every day. She is a mom who motivates her son to stay true to himself and finds strength in knowing that, although she didn’t grow up with a mother of her own, she can still be a great one to Hakeem.