Care to Share
Carmen Schloner, founder of Caridad Inc., has a special place in her heart for single mothers.
Caridad means charity, or helping others, in Spanish — and that’s exactly what the local nonprofit, Caridad Inc., is doing for single mothers in need in the area.
First founded by Carmen Schloner in Maryland in 2000, the Caridad North Carolina chapter opened about a year and a half ago, when Schloner moved to Leland.
“I retired, moved here and I was never going to do anything,” she says with a laugh. “My intention was to play golf and all that stuff. But, when I saw the need, with so many really poor people in this area, I knew I had to do this.”
Caridad’s first birth was made possible by Jerry Van Winter, Schloner’s former boss at Computer Packages Inc., the company she worked for in Maryland; he has since passed away.
“He wanted to give money to poor people, so he asked me to choose which group, and I said, ‘Single moms are the ones who need it,’” she says. “He gave me the funding, and we were able to help single moms with housing, education and college for the kids, things like that.”
Schloner wants to eventually post a memorial or dedication to honor Van Winter and his generosity on the new Caridad website.
Once a single mother herself, Schloner recognizes the challenges single mothers face, especially now during a pandemic. Caridad’s primary goal is to help single mothers within the Brunswick County community become self-sufficient.
“Even before the Caridad organization was started, I was helping people in Montgomery County [Maryland],” Schloner says. “I wanted to help all people: poor people, single moms, teenagers.”
During COVID, she and a group of Caridad volunteers were able to organize a back-to-school supplies drive for single mom families in the Leland community, which was super successful. In December, they held a toy drive, which they had to distribute through the school this year, rather than door-to-door. Nonetheless, Caridad gifted seven families, or 25 children. The group also plans to raise funds virtually, both via Facebook and their website.
“I also gathered a group of volunteers, here in Brunswick Forest, to start working and letting the community know who we are and what we do,” Schloner says. “However, more importantly, our goal is to let single mothers know they are not alone.”
Originally from Costa Rica, Schloner also plans to offer virtual Spanish lessons and a flea market as a virtual fundraiser. Spanish classes are $150 for three months, conducted three days a week for 75 minutes via Zoom.
As for now, Caridad is deeply involved in supporting two women. But the ultimate goal is to continue to grow its outreach.
Caridad’s mission, as explained on the website, is founded in positivity and faith. Schloner likes to meet with each client to learn about her needs and begin the process of addressing them right away, whether it’s housing, childcare, employment, education, financial support, counseling, spiritual guidance, daycare or something else. She wants to be able to reach the client’s goal of surviving alone with her family. The organization reports that more than 90 percent of the women who come to Caridad for help have reached their goals and keep improving their lives, and some of them are now even running their own successful businesses.