I first met Charles this past summer when I started working at LBFE’s CitySites program. As this was my first co-op, I was incredibly excited (and nervous). However, once I arrived at my first week of programming, Charles immediately welcomed me and the other co-ops with a calm and open presence. Every week since then, Charles has always been one of the first participants to show up for programs, expressing his eagerness and appreciation for LBFE Boston. Even though Charles may seem to be a more reserved person, there is no doubt he has so many stories and much wisdom to share.
Charles was born in North Carolina where he grew up living mostly a ‘slow life.’ In 1957, his father passed away, leaving Charles as the eldest son to help his mom care for his family of 11 siblings. He attended the local high school, from which he proudly graduated, and after accomplishing this milestone, Charles decided to come to Boston in 1967 to work alongside his brother-in-law as a luggage handler at Boston’s Logan Airport.
He started his own family, which eventually grew to his wife and eight kids. Being a luggage carrier proved very physically demanding, so Charles pursued a career change to school bus driver. For 19 years, Charles dedicated himself to safely transporting the children of Roxbury and Dorchester, as well as other cities around Boston. Since his retirement, Charles has continued to live in Boston and has been residing at St. Cecilia’s for four years now.
When I asked Charles about his experience attending LBFE Boston programs, he shared the great community and joy it has brought him. Immediately he said, “If you guys are here, I’m here.” He said that alongside his family calls, weekly programs give him things to look forward to. “Programs allow me to discover new hobbies and activities and play games with folks who wouldn’t want to otherwise.” From the wide array of activities, we’ve done at St. Cecilia’s, Charles’ favorite game is UNO. He appreciates the fun and friendly competition that a simple card game can bring. Although Charles does not usually come to CitySites with questions for our TechCafe, he recognizes how useful it can be for folks who need more support with tech.
As programming reaches its end for this fall semester, I asked Charles what advice he’d give to the students and other older adult participants. He shared, “Make sure you treat everybody with respect, and you’ll get it.” Charles practices what preaches, constantly respecting his program peers and being open to hearing new things. He and the students frequently talk about our experiences and what our daily lives look like…finding joy in every day. Charles appreciates these exchanges of experiences, learning more about the lives of today’s college students.
As we transitioned back into regular conversation, Charles continued to express his gratitude for LBFE, hoping to continue to be a part of our community and participate in many future programs at St. C’s.
Written by Stacy Abonce, LBFE Boston Co-Op Student from Northeastern University