Carolyn Baldwin has been involved in NJCTS for more than 10 years as a parent, volunteer and mentor to others. She and her family are fixtures at events like the Family Retreat, fundraisers and the Leadership Academy. She is currently a teacher in the Camden Public Schools. Thank you Carolyn for all of your hard work!
How did you become involved with NJCTS?
All three of our children have Tourette. At the time our son was first diagnosed, our family knew very little about TS. I had many fears about how successful my children would be and was heartbroken by the idea that their futures might not go as I had hoped. I first became involved with NJCTS when my oldest daughter, Anna, was 13.
I had found NJCTS online previously, but mistakenly thought that I lived too far away to be involved, since I live in southern NJ. I got in contact with Faith Rice and she invited us to come to a Grand Rounds training. Our family went from feeling scared and alone to suddenly being part of a community of people who understood and shared our challenges, fears, and hopes.
Quickly, I realized that not only would my children be OK but they would thrive! This realization was so powerful, I wanted to be able to share it with other families. Our family discovered that the more we became involved, the more we benefited. Our children became empowered by becoming youth advocates. They made life-long friends, learned coping skills, and discovered that TS did not have to stop them from anything. Scott, my husband, and I have also developed great friendships with families and staff of NJCTS. We find that we enjoy the events just as much as the kids. Spreading awareness and education of TS has helped our family in so many ways.
Do you mind telling us about your “day job”?
I teach 5th grade in a public school in Camden, NJ. While my children were little, I was fortunate to be able to stay at home with them. As they got older, I went to work as a Basic Skills teacher assistant. After finally graduating from Rowan University several years ago I began teaching.
What do you do in your “free” time?
I don’t really know what free time is! Reading is my favorite hobby but what I enjoy most is sitting around a table talking and laughing with my family when our schedules allow it.
Please share some details about your family.
Scott and I have been married for 22 years. Our oldest daughter, Anna, is 21. She is a junior at Stockton University, studying to be a Special Education teacher. Our daughter, Sarah 19, is a sophomore at Syracuse University studying Anthropology. Eric, our youngest, is 16. He is a junior at Clearview Regional High School and he is currently looking at colleges. He plans to study Astrophysics.
What does your family think of your volunteer efforts?
Scott and I have always loved to be involved in something positive. In fact, we met while volunteering for a community service organization. We taught our children that if you CAN help someone, you DO help someone. They understand my desire to be part of NJCTS because they share in it. We all recognize how much our family has benefited from NJCTS and we want to pass it on.
You have wonderfully described the benefits of volunteering. Would you care to comment a little on the effect that volunteering has had on your kids?
I sent the question out to my kids to see how they would respond. They told me that they thought my volunteering was “cool” and that they were proud of me. They all volunteer. I think that all of us have learned that we get a lot out of volunteering. Anna volunteers for a sports organization for special needs kids. Sarah and Eric both volunteer with different groups in their schools. All of us have realized that quite often, the volunteer gains more out of an experience than the person or organization receiving the help. Volunteering helped Anna realize that she wanted to work with Special needs kids as a career. Volunteering has opened many doors for my kids. It gave them public speaking experience, taught them the value of speaking up for what you believe in, and really boosted self-confidence. It has done the same for me. Most of my life, I was an extreme introvert, struggling in social situations. Volunteering changed that drastically.