For these Baltimore folks, thankfulness is personal

Major obstacles turned out to be a gift, as overcoming them has lead to happier, perhaps even healthier, lives.

  • Fillmaker Sheldon Candis: “We’re all going after the endgame, but it’s about you being about to navigate the journey and survive the journey that makes you a successful person,” he says. “It is a very, very tough journey.”
Fillmaker Sheldon Candis: “We’re all going after… (Courtesy of Bill Gray )
November 22, 2012|By Jill Rosen, The Baltimore Sun

This time of year, "thankfulness" and "gratitude" are terms folks throw around so much that they almost become greeting card platitudes.

Maybe people mean it, maybe they don't.

Doctors have linked the concept of gratitude to inner peace, even physical well-being. It's at least true that there are people quietly living with real thankfulness, though they might not use that word. It's just life lived, something that warms them from the inside and maybe helps them sleep through the night.

These are the stories of five people like that in Baltimore. They've all overcome challenges and tasted personal triumph.

These men and women, show Thanksgiving is sweet, personal and real, maybe even a way of life.

Angel Carpenter, 92Q radio personality

Angel Carpenter didn't know little girls weren't supposed to to go to sleep at night with no parents in the house. Or see junkies shooting up. Or to be having sex as young as 9.

That's just how it was growing up in Lafayette Courts, an eastside public housing development. Carpenter's father was gone, her mother addicted to drugs and largely preoccupied with finding them, her older brothers fending for themselves.

"It was kind of just me," she says. "On my own."

Though her mother was an addict — a fact she corroborates — she gave Carpenter one thing to hold on to: Only the strong survive. Carpenter took it to heart, steeling herself to get to school most days, pass her classes and step around the junkies in the Lafayette Court hallways.

Her friends' families let her stay over sometimes and made sure she occasionally got a good meal. She sold candy at school to have some money in her pocket. Teachers saw her potential and also tried to help.

Despite her given name, Carpenter was no angel. She got suspended. She stole. But she steered clear of real trouble and, as she puts it, did what she needed to do: "I got things done."

"There were no opportunities there just sitting waiting for you to grab ahold of," she says. "But I always knew I wasn't going to stay here in the Lafayette projects forever. I wanted to get out and be that example. So people would say, 'Hey, look at Angel. She did it. I could do it, too.' "

Carpenter says that by the time she hit her teens, her mother had straightened out her life. Part of what helped her do it was seeing how well her daughter had managed on her own.

Carpenter got into Howard University, graduating with honors in 2006. She started in radio right out of school, worked her way up, and now, at 27, she's known in Baltimore as AngelBaby, an on-air personality at Baltimore's 92Q.

She just founded an organization called Urban Artemis to help empower young women in Baltimore.

"It's for the same young girls who are a victim of their circumstances," she says. "To show them how not to be."

City Councilman Nick J. Mosby

Nick Mosby remembers the night Kurt Schmoke was elected mayor. It was 1987, and Mosby was years away from being eligible to vote, but he can picture the candidate's red, green and black campaign materials and how it seemed like a party at home as his mother watched the results, realizing her city had, for the first time, elected a black mayor.

Mosby's mother, Eunice Orange, a career clerk at the Social Security Administration, didn't have the money or the time to get involved in politics but felt its power to create change. She'd bring her son into the voting booth with her, letting him pull the lever; and if it was a race she wasn't familiar with, he could pick the name.

Just a third-grader during Schmoke's victory, Mosby started telling everyone he met that he wanted to be a public servant with an office in that grand white building on Holliday Street.

"I'd tell kids, 'That's going to be my office,' " says Mosby. 'And they'd say, 'What's that?' I'd tell them, 'City Hall.' "

Mosby's mother never laughed at any of this.

'If I told her I would be the head of the UN or if I told her I was going to own every NFL team, she believed me," Mosby says. "There was nothing my mother didn't believe I could do."

The first time Mosby ran for office — City Council in 2007 — his mother was his first and largest campaign contributor, writing him a check for for $800, money she'd saved for months. When he lost, she was still proud. He'd come in fourth out of 12.

He was at her bedside when she died in 2010. It was a sudden thing, an infection that had taken a turn. She held his hand, and he grabbed onto her forearm as she slipped away.

That next year, he considered running again. It would be an uphill battle, against a seemingly entrenched incumbent. He'd probably lose. But he thought about what his mom might tell him.

"She'd say, 'Baby, you could win.' "

Lynn Edwards, owner of Charm City Dogs

A dog was always in Lynn Edwards' life. At least one.

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