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Oreletta and Ashanda on the motivating power of motherhood

Oreletta and Ashanda, Cara alums from the classes of August 2011 and October 2005

Oreletta: Ashanda is my second child out of six and we are very close. I am also a grandmother and a great-grandmother. I love all my children, they’re like a support system for me as much as I am for them. 

Ashanda: My mom is my best friend. We do so much together.  I absolutely have to see my mom at least twice a week. At minimum. She’s my number one. In my career, I’m an educator, but my mom is my number one teacher. 

Oreletta: My own mother was a very strong woman. She was wonderful, loving, and supportive. She influenced me to be the mother I am to my children. Watching her get up and go to work everyday despite all her struggles, motivated me to do what I do for my own children. That motivation has been passed down and also inspires my children. It has been such a great experience, watching my daughter grow and become self-sufficient.

Ashanda: I would describe my mother as very strong, very smart, and super resourceful. She can literally find anything you need, whatever it is you need on Earth. I don’t know how she knows it. But she can point you in the direction of anything. So, she’s taught me that there’s always a way to figure things out. But, one of the most important things she’s taught me is to take care of myself. Because if you do not take care of yourself, you can’t take care of your children. 

Oreletta: Ashanda joined Cara ten years after I first joined. She was unemployed, needed housing, and needed a way to take care of her own daughters. I knew Cara had the resources she could benefit from, while also learning important job and social skills. I saw her become a really great and productive mother, the drive to get a good job, and she also landed an apartment. Ashanda coming to Cara reminded me of how the door is always open for me and my family. It’s just like going home, you know?

Ashanda: I’m so glad I got connected to Cara through my mom. I’m still very well connected with some of the people that I met, some of them are my closest friends. Like we’ve gone through life together, and it’s almost 20 years later. And I’m grateful for that resource. I’m grateful for that connection. I learned a lot beyond just finding a job, beyond finding employment. I built real relationships with real people and that helped me get through life.

Oreletta: I’ve always made a point to be transparent and real with my children. I also want them to know that whatever decision they decide to make, I’m always going to be there as their mother. I’ve made my own mistakes too. Everyone makes mistakes. I just let them know I’ve been there too, they all know my past. But I explain to them what you’re doing can be done a whole different way. The best thing I can do in life is be a supportive mother, grandmother, and great grandmother to them. 

Ashanda: When I say we can go to my mom for anything, I mean anything. And it’s because she’s so raw and uncut with us. She’s made us so comfortable with coming to her and telling her anything under the sun. Even if we’re going through things that are taboo in the community, things that you probably have been told you can’t talk about or should be ashamed of. We’re not ashamed of anything. My mom is so forgiving. And she has definitely given us way more grace than we probably deserved. More grace than anyone will give us throughout the rest of our life. There’s no unconditional love like the love my mom provides us.