Growing up, my dad was a high school choir director.
Each year I would meet hundreds of young kids who would all do their best to transpose their faultless 16-18 years worth of "wisdom" on me (thankfully the vast majority of that "wisdom" was quickly forgotten).
Every once in a while, one of these kids would actually impact me. They would do/show/say something that would stick with me forever.
Charity Bell was one of these. The circumstances of my spending time with Charity aren't especially pretty. Her mother was in a downward spiral, battling mental health issues and alcoholism. My parents recognized this and allowed her to spend as much time with our family as she needed.
While Charity was spending time with us, she would work to explain the things that were happening in her life that I couldn't understand. The troubles that she was having with her family, why she was spending time with us, and ultimately the death of her mother. Charity always had a knack for simplifying things in order for me to comprehend.
After high school, through the strong suggestion of my parents for her to consider going to college, Charity went on to train as an opera singer at the New England Conservatory. After college, Charity decided to pursue other ways to give back, and joined the Peace Corps. She spent 18 months working in a remote African village delivering over 60 babies as a lay midwife. She returned and spent time as the Founding Director of an arts/youth development foundation for at-risk youth where she not only oversaw the first grant making cycles of a multimillion dollar endowment but also led the reconstruction of a Boston landmark building into an arts space for youth. It was also at this time that she began working as a foster parent.
Being one of four emergency foster parents in the Boston area, she took in over 100 newborns (many drug-addicted), over a 10 year period.
During this period, she applied to and graduated from the Harvard Kennedy School, got married, and had a child of her own. Even with all of the stress that she brought upon herself, she always made a point to visit with me and my family over the years.
The compassion that she has shown, not only to me, but to the countless people that she has interacted with in her lifetime, has been one of the greatest lessons that I have ever had the opportunity of learning.
Charity Bell has made it a mission to change the world in which she lives every day. I am grateful and lucky to call her my Other Mother.
- This wonderful story was submitted by : Colin Spillane -