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Charlene McLaughlin continues her mother’s legacy

Published:Thursday | December 3, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Charlene McLaughlin prepping some ingredients for a fruit salad.
Charlene and her girls.
Charlene McLaughlin

Mandeville, Manchester:

She watched her mother single-handedly care for her and her three siblings throughout their childhood and adolescent days. Her admiration and appreciation grew even more when her mother started her own business to sustain the family. When the matriarch passed, Charlene McLaughlin knew she had to continue building on what her mother had left behind.

McLaughlin not only had to learn the art of doing what her mother did effortlessly - running 'Beverley's Bakery' - but she is also learning how to manage raising two girls while balancing a full-time job, with extra curricula activities.

"I get here by 7:30 in the mornings, get the staff going with all the production material they need, pay bills and do whatever else needs to be done. I then leave to go to work at the Manchester Youth Information Centre, a division of the Ministry of Youth, where I am one of the empowerment officers."

She continued, "We do a lot of partnerships with other youth development stakeholders in the parish; we do capacity building in leadership and advocacy workshops, some amount of counselling, academic guidance, entrepreneurship workshops ... we work with those in state care. When I leave the office at five I come back here to (the) bakery."

Believing that as a mother, the time made for children is extremely important, McLaughlin says she is learning daily to handle it well.

"At one point, there was little to no balance. Their (daughters') schools end at different times and if the taxi can't pick them up, then I have to make one pick up and have them come with me to the office. If they have homework they do it then, but I realised that I needed to make a little more effort, and so I Sundays are our day. We may go to church or take long drives down to Trelawny or St Ann for play dates, visits and or beach excursions."

She may be jokingly called the 'Busy Bee', but McLaughlin says she prefers to be productive than be one with too much time on her hands - and not even her diagnosis of systemic lupus can stop her.

"I am trained 'Loctition' (grooming sister locks). I'm a part of several service clubs. I have a passion for the youth and I even want to start a foundation for them in my mother's honour. I want to just be more like her; she helped everybody she could. People used to call this place 'Food for the Poor' because my mother never turned away someone who is hungry, and I find myself with the need to help as well."

The Jill of all trades recently received her Bachelor's of Laws (LLB) degree from the University of London and hopes to practise law before she leaves this earth.

"Life is so short and I believe we should do all we can to impact lives and to encourage others. I don't believe I work a day in my life because I am passionate about what I do and I am happy for the foundation that was laid, one I hope I can continue to lay for my girls."