I first met Carolyn in June of 2006 at her outreach center near Mobile, Alabama. At the time, she was taking care of displaced Hurricane Katrina victims out of her father’s unfinished church. Unlike many of the people I had met doing the same basic thing; I knew from the outset that there was something special about the way Carolyn did things.
Carolyn had been a wedding planner before the hurricane with no thought of coordinating a sprawling charity. But, when the devastation became apparent soon after the storm passed, her ironclad Christian faith and abounding love manifested in mercy prompted her to act instead of reacting. Instead of sitting around in a daze waiting for someone to help her and her family, Carolyn immediately started finding food and other supplies to help others.
I was in Kentucky when I received a call from Carolyn in July of 2006. Her father had just died and she was suffering physical problems herself that would necessitate her going in the hospital. Although we had only met once, there was a bond that quickly developed between us due to the mutual respect we had for what each other was doing.
I had to go to Pennsylvania to do a meeting but afterward I made a beeline for Mobile to visit Carolyn in the hospital and do what I could to help the people she was ministering to. Thankfully I had my little green van to stay in and help out. That trip 7 years ago fostered a relationship of trust and thanksgiving that remains vital even today. Although I rarely see or even talk with Carolyn much anymore, I deeply admire what she is doing and pray for her and her outreach daily.
Carolyn refused to quit, get discouraged, compromise or sell out to anyone over the years. Her group, Tri Coastal Community Outreach, is truly independent and is not supported by government programs or underwritten by a major denomination. Carolyn has depended on donations, both large and small, to stay afloat for years. She draws no salary but works 60-80 hours a week strictly as a labor of love.
Over the years, I have supported Tri Coastal through donations of money and goods. I even purchased freezers for them in 2007 to allow them to give out frozen food. More than once I have taken trailers of goods from our eBay store to help stock their thrift store. Of all the people and groups I met in 2006-2007, none were as pure and Godly in what they were doing as Tri Coastal.
Years ago Carolyn started conducting classes on how to repair your house, set up a checking account, stay healthy and many other things. This was all done to break the cycle of dependency many charities fall into. It is a true saying that if you give a man a fish he will eat for a day but if you teach him HOW to fish he can eat for a lifetime.
Two years ago, ABC television visited Tri Coastal and filmed an episode of their unique show “Secret Millionaire”. Tonight at 7:00 pm CDT on ABC that episode will be aired. If you want to see how much good a grass roots charity can do when the leader is a devout Christian who refuses to compromise Biblical truth; I urge you to watch or record this show for it will truly bless you.
Many of you know of my admiration for Carolyn and Tri Coastal for I have written of her before. It fills my heart with great joy and thanksgiving to know that this evening, her group will finally receive the recognition it deserves. For me, it is like the joy a parent feels when seeing their child graduate. Thank you for allowing me to share a bit about someone and something very near and dear to my heart.