Charlene Williams lives by the philosophy that everyone needs someone to believe in them. She dedicates her time, talent, and treasure to being that someone for countless young people in the St. Louis region. Charlene demonstrates exceptional creativity and a clear passion for helping others through her role in the Program in Physical Therapy. As her nominator, Gammon Earhart, Director of the Program in Physical Therapy noted, “She extends her creativity and passion for service beyond the workplace, going above and beyond to support and inspire others in the community.”
Charlene is the Chief Visionary Officer of Teens of Tomorrow (TOT), an organization whose mission is to assist children in reaching their full potential as healthy and well-adjusted individuals. Many of the teenagers face a variety of challenges– homelessness, mental illness, a history of criminal offenses, a lack of family support, and disability. Charlene makes sure each one knows they are valued, loved, and respected. Her nurturing spirit truly knows no bounds. She makes time to be fully present in the children’s lives through doctor appointments, experiences at museums and community events, home-cooked meals, career mentorship, and her listening ear.
In addition to giving her time as a TOT mentor, Charlene has strengthened the organization by writing grants and fostering collaborations with organizations such as Ferguson1000, the St. Louis Clergy Coalition, and the St. Louis City Department of Public Safety, and with leaders such as State Representative Bruce Franks. In her five years of near nightly service to the organization, Charlene has helped TOT to provide more than 4,000 hours of volunteerism reaching more than 500 children with her special blend of caring, encouragement, and love.
Charlene’s compassion and conviction have resulted in the tangible successes of high school graduations, job training, and job placement, while also reinforcing a hope in children’s futures despite the many hardships they have faced. As TOT founder Charles Shelton noted, “Charlene has a heart of gold; she has given her last and sacrificed it for children who had nothing.”