By R.A. Contreras
One by one, women stepped up to the microphone to tell the audience how their lives have been changed. Through tears, they told stories of how they have countered drug addiction, broke free from domestic violence, won child custody, and been saved from a certain death. And according to them, they credited one woman for helping them: San Bernardino’s Kim Carter.
Carter, who runs the local non-profit organization Time For Change Foundation (TFCF), and her many supporters found out on Thursday October 8 that she made the annual ‘CNN Top-10 Heroes’ list as announced by the network’s Anderson Cooper. “Kim Carter cycled in and out of incarceration and homelessness. Then she decided it was time for change. Today she’s helping hundreds of women in similar circumstances reclaim their lives,” noted Anderson in a video presentation.
For the accolade, Carter won $10,000 and will be flown to New York for a gala on Sunday December 6 where a CNN ‘Hero of the Year’ will be chosen. The winner will also receive a $100,000 prize to further their organization’s work.
At a celebration at San Bernardino’s Feldhym Library the same day as the announcement, local dignitaries, family, friends, residents, and TFCF clients came together to honor Carter for her work since 2002.
“The message you have spread is remarkable; there is tremendous value in redeeming women and children,” praised former San Bernardino mayor Patrick Morris, who first met Carter in 2005. “I’ll never forget what she said that day: ‘I’m going to be making changes in this town,’” remembered Morris.
Present in the audience were Carter’s family members: mother Carolyn Clary-Brown, god mother Tami Norriss, and cousin Denise Tolbert. Clary-Brown who helped Carter set up some of the rehab homes TFCF utilizes, reminisced on her daughter’s journey. “She got herself together, went back to school, and got this program started; and it shows you can pull your bootstraps up and keep on moving. From an early age, she’s always been running things…a smart girl. Once she got it together, she became unstoppable.”
Carter, 52, who spent time in prison and suffered from drug addiction, recalled a particularly harrowing moment when she hit rock bottom. “That woman saved my life,” she recalled as she pointed to Norriss in the audience. “My god mother had to literally pour water down my throat when I was dying.”
Tracy Acevedo, who has been one of the numerous women to benefit from TFCF’s services, remarked on why she appreciates Carter’s support. “I’ll always be grateful for Ms. Carter for helping me get my kids back. There are a lot of people who offer rehab, but she helps us to actually use the tools and stay sober. Thanks to her I have a voice that says to never give up.”
Carter was adamant in praising her TCFC team and clients especially for the position she is in. “There is no me without you. We can never forget why we are here. It’s all about these women and their children. We are blessed to be able to give them hope.”
Among the other nine individuals chosen for the honor include a woman who helps sloths, a few doctors, an individual who assist kids in Nepal, and a combat veteran who guides fellow service members. Voters may vote once per day for any of the top ten as well as see video snippets of each honoree at cnnheroes.com