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Living with passion and authenticity
Charlotte lives her values to create a better world.
Sometimes when you meet someone, you just know they’re good people. You know how it is. Even if you don’t know a lot about them, you can feel their goodness radiating from them. I respected Charlotte before I knew her because my wife Wendy identified her as her best friend. But as you also probably know, just because your spouse loves someone, especially someone they’ve known for a long time, that doesn’t mean you will.
When I finally met Charlotte, I was relieved to discover that I felt that good-person vibe. It didn’t take me long to see what Wendy saw in her. Charlotte is one of those rare authentic and passionate people who tightly aligns her actions, activities, and generosity with her values.
Although Charlotte and I didn’t know each other well at the time that Wendy and I got married, Charlotte (who we call “Wendy’s Charlotte” as opposed to “my Charlotte” who I wrote about in the 1990s decade) jumped in to help.
As a quilter and textile artist, she made a table runner, pulpit cloth, and numerous small balsam pillows as gifts for our wedding party and to scent the sanctuary with their woody fragrance.
Several years later, she turned her artistic talents into another special gift.
“What are your favorite colors?” she casually asked me one day as I girded myself for an upcoming mastectomy.
“I like browns, greens, oranges, and yellows,” I replied, watching her brow furrow more deeply with each color I named.
“Hmmm, I don’t work a lot with those colors,” she said and then changed the topic to something else.
I didn’t know the reason for her question, and didn’t give it a second thought, but soon after I returned home from the hospital, I understood.
“I told you that I’d never worked with the colors you said you liked before,” Charlotte shared as she handed me a beautiful quilt and matching pillow, “but I have to say that the more I used them, the more I fell in love with them. I really like them now!”
“These are BEAUTIFUL!” I exclaimed as I wrapped the quilt around my legs and hugged the pillow to protect my healing chest.
Weeks earlier, Charlotte had invited Wendy to go to the fabric store and together they picked out cloth that I instantly fell in love with. I couldn’t have commissioned a better gift.
Charlotte is always looking for ways she can help her friends and family, and her giving spirit extends beyond her interpersonal relationships to her commitment to making the world a better place.
In the relatively short time I’ve known her, I’ve seen her help men in prison transition to life on the outside, organize sanctuary for an immigrant living in a local church, sew masks for friends and the wider community, fight the assault on books and reading, and volunteer with the local chapter of Coming to the Table, an organization committed to “Taking America Beyond the Legacy of Slavery.”
One of the things I most love about her is that she doesn’t stop reading, doesn’t stop thinking, and doesn’t stop staying informed about the issues she cares about. She then finds ways to share what she’s learned for the benefit of others.
Concerned about the recent efforts to censor books, especially those about LGBTQ and African American people, Charlotte designed and printed an informational brochure and gave a talk about her concerns. She combined her knowledge as a retired librarian and former children’s bookstore owner with her current research to present the issues in a way that people could not only be informed but understand how they could act on what they learned. For Charlotte, social justice is not something she does, it’s who she is.
Whether it’s in her one-on-one interactions, creating a quilt for someone who needs a little joy, or confronting the issues of the day, Charlotte lives her values in a world that challenges her beliefs at every turn.
I strive to live as authentically as she does, and sometimes I achieve it, but I look to Charlotte to remind me how to stay true to my values while I’m doing the things I love.
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