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

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.