“Deye Mon gen Mon”. Beyond the Mountains, there are Mountains…
I have never had to write about the reasons why I give, because I have never been able to up until recently. We have always received. My 3 siblings and I grew up in a mostly single parent house in Easton, PA. Life was always rocky and my mom did the best she could to provide the best she could. She worked as a nurses aid in several nursing homes and came home late most nights. We were recipients of social services, went to food pantries for food when we had nothing, bounced around a shelter or two, then lived in Section 8. My mom once lost her purse on a bus we were riding in a week before Christmas. It wasn’t returned and I’ll never forget the stress of her trying to recoup the cash she worked hard for, and lost trying to provide a good Christmas for us. We spent a Christmas or two at the local VFW, where vets dressed as Santa handed donated gifts out to families like ours. We also spent a lot of time at the Salvation Army, and The Boys & Girls Club, where we got childcare, lunch, learned and made friendships that are bonded in the struggle. Through these programs we were able to go on trips, camping and do things my mom couldn’t provide or knew about.
We were raised in a religious house and taught to always appreciate family first, to love and help each other because thats was all we had in the end. We were also brought up to appreciate the connections we make in life, cultivate opportunities and learn from every relationship. Eventually my mom became mentally ill, and I raised my sister through her last years of high school.
Every situation is diﬀerent but divorce drove a huge wedge between my parents and we were caught in the middle. My Dad and I have a great relationship now that I’m a adult, but as a kid drama got in the way. We spent a lot of time apart during my childhood, but the time we spent together are solid memories and lessons I hold to this day. Even though I didn’t see him often, he was always on the phone checking on me and school. He immigrated from Haiti back in the day, worked hard to get where he is now, and is one of my heroes and lessons in life. Growing up in Haiti and coming here was no easy task. He is a major voice in my reasoning and I’m thankful for his advice. He’s always wanted better for us than what he still preaches. We still talk everyday and love spending time together. My Grandmother was a teacher in Haiti and continued to do so late into her life. She knew since she had the skills to make a change, she would teach as many people as possible to make Haiti better.
A positive example is something not everyone has. I have been fortunate in having many to learn guidance from, and I’m thankful for them. These people have taught me that there is always a chance to be better, learn more, develop skills, and the chance to change my future outlook.
I do not have a four year degree. I received a education through an apprenticeship because someone gave me a chance to better myself by learning. I moved out of Pennsylvania to New York and followed the advice to learn more, and it has taken me this far. I will continue to use these lessons given to me to continue to grow.
While I have always dreamed of getting out of the struggle, doing better and giving back one day, I never thought it would be possible in early adulthood. I’m 33.. and when I think about everything we’ve been through, it really wasn’t that long ago.. we received because people cared to give, and learned lessons that people were willing to take time to teach. I am beyond grateful for everyone that has had a hand in my development.… It takes a village and I am thankful for those in my “village” that have given time and energy to help guide me (us) to see the positive chances that are available. It seems like the good years flew by, but the bad ones seemed to last forever.
I am here to help and be a positive example for kids that are in the situation I was in. Everyday is a chance to build more and do more. I see my reflection in those that can’t aﬀord food or proper eye care. Its tough to try to move forward without the basics. The world is a tough place. The lessons we learn are much more clear when you can actually see, focus and understand. This is how I pay it forward.
My company is writing several “Vision Scholarships” to local non-profits to help those in need of proper vision care as well as supporting other programs at other organizations. The Nyack Center is one of our focuses for giving because of the impact they continue to have on our local youth.The programs they oﬀer feed and nurture. From the breakfast club, to daily activities and after school programs, the Nyack Center continues to help develop the minds of youth, and teach positive skills that will go on for future success. There are mountains beyond the mountains my friends, lets help each other over them.
It takes a village and this is my way of #Giving.
~Carl Cameau ABO, LDO
Hudson Spectacles/Eyevolution Optique 42 South Franklin St
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