Starting a New Chapter
Charles Mcpherson is an affable, soft-spoken, eloquent man who has spent many of his 47 years struggling against violence, abuse, alcohol and cocaine. Today he is winning his struggle on all fronts, and is working toward a better future.
Charles spent his early years in Northeast DC with his parents and six siblings. Though his father was in and out of jail, his mother “made sure that we stayed in school and did our homework”. She provided discipline, volunteered in his classroom, and bought books and an encyclopedia for her children. In junior high school Charles was a member of the football and swim teams. He also enjoyed neighborhood recreation center activities and participated in community clean-ups. But despite his mother’s best efforts, “she couldn’t protect us from everything”. Threats came from the violence both within his family and from the streets. In this environment, Charles learned early how to fight in order to survive.
In March 2011, Charles came to AoH for a computer class. When he realized he could also study for his GED, he said, “Let me sign up right away!” Since starting at AoH he has learned a lot and has worked especially hard on math. He says that his teacher “really knows her stuff” and he is committed to doing the work and passing his GED. His commitment to the program is demonstrated by the fact that he commutes by bus three-and-a half hours a day, and that he won the AoH Perfect Attendance Award earlier this year.
Today Charles is trying to be an example to his son, now a high school student, and trying to “guide him in the right direction”. He is also the proud grandfather of ten grandchildren.
As he has grown older, Charles now sees that “life has a lot more to offer”. He does not want to continue to struggle and very much wants to do better. Professionally, his goal is to become a social worker, supporting people living with HIV and helping others to protect themselves from infection. “It’s like I’m starting a new chapter. I see progress in my life, and joy, laughter and trust. I’ve come a long way, and never thought that I’d be thinking about a future.” And yet, at age 47, he says, “I have one.”