Charles Chislom an overcomer on mission to help others
By Dorothy Inman-Johnson
Special to the Outlook
Born Charles Edward Atkins on June 11, 1952 in Birmingham Alabama to a single mother, he moved with his mother to Tallahassee in 1955 when he was only three years old. Soon after moving to Florida, his mother realized she was ill equipped to take care of herself and her small child. She gave him up for adoption to a couple who owned a bar (juke joint) in Frenchtown and was known to bootleg alcohol. His name was legally changed to Chislom, the name of his adopted parents. Though his new parents cared for him, exposure in early childhood to life on the street due to his new parents’ business led Charles to an addiction that controlled his life for 38 years.
Today, he is happy to see that life in the rear view mirror. On September 28, 2017, he will celebrate twelve (12) years of recovery. He has spent those twelve years studying the disease of addiction to prepare to help others make the journey to recovery. Not satisfied with simply celebrating his own success, he said he had found his mission in life. His days are filled doing volunteer work and community outreach with organizations that include the Kearney Center (Shelter), the Hope House, a men’s transitional facility, Transforming Lives by Faith in Action, and Standing Tall. He regularly volunteers time, as well, counseling and ministering to inmates in jails, prisons, and working with those in treatment centers. He works tirelessly to provide encouragement, support, and advocacy for others trying to escape the grip of addiction that held his life hostage for so long.
In the process, he accepted the call from God and became a licensed minister. Charles has committed the rest of his life to leading others to the recovery that saved his own life. He feels God led him through the deepest darkness into the light so he can be a testimony that where people start in life does not determine who they are or how far they can go. Charles Chislom is living proof.
He cannot begin to count the thousands of volunteer hours he has given back to our community and the number of lives he has helped to set on a more positive course, without asking for anything in return. The least we can do is to say “Thank You”. Congratulations, Charles Chislom, for being this week’s Person of the Week.
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