Carol McKinney - From Heartbreak to Hope
This week's 'Pay it Forward' takes us to McMinn County where a woman with true conviction works to help women rebuild their lives.
Our story starts inside Athen's Church of Christ where Carol McKinney found her calling. She is on a mission to help female inmates move from heartbreak to hope.
I meet Angela Patterson there. She can hardly wait to surprise her friend.
Angela tells me, "She's (Carol) a foster parent, she drives a bus for Athens City Schools and she just dedicates so much of her time to other people. She helps the women who are at the jail... helps them find a job. She's helped them find homes."
"She lets them know that she cares about them. Society wants to throw them aside, but she lets them know that they do have value," Angela says.
Carol has just finished her morning school bus route and will be at the church in a matter of minutes.
Angela laughs and says, "She has no idea what's going on. She thinks she's just here for a meeting... So, we're gonna go 'Pay it Forward!"
Also, on hand for the surprise are Carol's husband, Stuart, and 4-year-old Malachi. The couple took Malachi under their wing while his mother completed her jail time. She's working, taking care of her sons, and doing well these days.
We see that Carol's arrived so we quietly make our way down the hall and into the church's front office where she's meeting with the pastor.
Angela bursts into the room and then turns to Carol.
"I know you're here to meet with the pastor but you're also here for another reason."
A very surprised Carol shouts, "Oh my word!"
Angela counts out the $500 and says, "I'm here on behalf of McMahan Law Firm and NewsChannel 9. Thank you for all your hard work and for being an inspiration to so many people.
At that moment little Malachi can hardly contain his own excitement. He races from Stuart's side and screams, "Surprise!"
He and his family finally know a new and better beginning thanks to Carol's support and generosity.
Carol lifts Malachi up and looks into his eyes.
Smiling she asks, "Hey, did you know about this?"
Carol and other volunteers at her church have taken on a project of gigantic proportion.
"We need a house for women that have nowhere to go but back to a dope house. You know, when they get out of jail - somebody that wants to do the right thing but they don't have an option. They just need to start over. Nobody's give 'em a chance," Carol tells me tearfully.
At that moment it's clear that compassion like Carol's is priceless.
Embracing humanity lends hope, heals hearts, and shows us all - that if just given a chance - we can all forge a life worthy of our dreams.
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