My name is Charito Coriano. I am a mother, a daughter, a sister, a wife and a veteran of our esteemed Armed forces. I come from a broken, one parent home. I was raised by my beautiful mother with the help of her mother, my grandmother. My father left when I was 10, and my mother and I were inseparable. My mother was both a mother and father to me. She worked really hard to make sure I did not lack anything. Even though I couldn’t have expensive shoes or clothing, I everything I needed. It was hard growing up, because there were a lot of things I wanted to do but couldn’t. At the age of 12, my mom moved us from New York to Meriden, Connecticut. A small town where all corner stores close at 8pm, and the only thing for excitement was going to the mall (which also closes at 8pm). It was so different from New York where almost everything stayed open 24hrs a day. You would see people walking around at all hours of the days, whereas in Meriden it was like a ghost town. At the age of 14, I had to get a job to help my mother out with bills and other things. I would go to school in the morning and then went to work right after, and even with me helping there were times when we wouldn’t have enough money to buy groceries. I did that until I graduated high school because I was going to go to college after graduation. I had applied to several colleges, even to my dream school, Yale University. Guess what? I got accepted! I applied for several scholarships to be able to go, however, I did not get any. Therefore, even though I got accepted, I was not able to afford the tuition. So, I decided to go to a school in Fort Lauderdale FL. I had never been further than NY, so I thought I would venture out. It was a little more affordable (for me at least). After my first semester, I came home for Christmas break and I saw that my mom was working extra shifts and doing other things, and I asked her why and she told me not to worry about it. But my grandmother told me that she was doing this so that I can go to school. At the end of that semester, I came home. I didn’t want my mother to struggle for me. So I came home and went to work to help her. Then, I went with a friend that was joining the army, to accompany her, and I ended up joining as well (what was I thinking?!). I signed up for 8 years (really, crazy huh?!). When I came home from basic training I met my now husband, and we dated for several years. We then got married and had a baby girl. I lost my mom a year and a half later (she was only 38 years old) to a heart attack. That was hard for me because my mom was my all; she was my BEST friend and the one that was there for me through everything. She was the one who always believed in me and who pushed me to be better. After that we had a son and we also took in my baby sister, which was 3 years old when my mother passed. She has been raised as our daughter. I pushed to do better than what my mom had done for me because I know that is what she would have wanted. I always said I would like to have a big family, so my children would never have to know the struggles that my mother and I had to go through. There were times when my mother and I didn’t know where we would get the money to go grocery shopping, or to buy personal items to bathe, and we would wonder if we would have enough money to have a roof over our heads. But my mother always managed to get some kind of help, either from the state welfare or borrow money until food stamps came in, etc. I didn’t want my children to have to go through that. I saw the struggle and shame my mother went through. When I met my husband he too had come from a broken household. So we vowed that our children would not go through what we went through. We have raised 3 wonderful children, who are all professionals now and hardworking citizens. We all work together in our ministry for the Lord to help feed the homeless, to foster children through our children’s bible study, and helping those in need. I have taken advocacy classes as a parent, through the program Parent Leadership Training Institute (PLTI), to advocate for children with Children’s First Initiative in Meriden CT, in which I served on the Board. I enjoy working with children; it is so rewarding to help a child or a family in need. To see the smiles on their faces when they receive food, clothing, even a toy during our food drives. I know that my mother would be proud of the productive woman I have become. I want to be that same role model for other children and families, as my mother was to me. If I can lessen the burden I have made a difference.
I KNOW HUNGER, DESPAIR AND SUFFERING.