With two jobs, two kids in high school, and numerous community engagements, it’s a wonder that Charlene Campbell has time for it all. But with her husband Jeff by her side and a deep passion for her work, Charlene balances the responsibilities of being a Program Manager at Beyond Expectations, an Accounts Receivable Specialist at Vietri, Inc. (an Italian import business), and an active member of her Hillsborough community.
In 2009, Charlene and her husband Jeff started Beyond Expectations, a nonprofit that aims to the fill the void of advocacy and mentor-ship for adolescents in the Triangle and surrounding areas. The dream of Beyond Expectations began when Charlene and Jeff served on a task force that was working to close the achievement gap among kids in Hillsborough.
The task force focused on minority boys, who are most affected by the achievement gap. The couple started holding Saturday sessions to open up a dialogue between the boys and their community, and to learn how the community could support the boys’ needs. The Saturday sessions became regular occurrences and eventually the concept for Beyond Expectations was born. In 2009, their dream became a reality.
Five years later and now the mentoring group has grown to include three programs: Boys to Men, Girls Hold This World Up, and College Career Services. Adolescents in grades 6 through 12 receive emotional, academic and social support through programs that emphasize creating strong foundations for the future.
“Our main focus is that our kids stay focused and learn these essential life skills to be successful. College is a big component of that. But if you’re not going to college, we want to make sure that there is a life plan for you when you get out of high school,” Charlene said.
Charlene is no stranger to the strain of the college application process. Her son, a senior in high school, just went through the college application process and is now beginning to apply for scholarships as well.
Family is an important source of strength and support for Charlene. In addition to sharing the responsibility of taking the kids to basketball, softball, football games, and managing Beyond Expectations together, Jeff and Charlene both work at Vietri, Inc.
“It’s not easy. We both work full time jobs and we’re trying to run a mentoring organization as well,” Charlene said.
“People wonder if we get sick of each other, but it actually works very well. We go to work everyday together, we go to lunch together, we run the organization together, and we’ve been married for 18 years.”
“Doing what makes you happy will drive you. Sometimes you get stuck in a job that pays the bills but doesn’t really make you happy,” Charlene said. She believes that finding joy and satisfaction in the workplace is just as important as finding a paycheck.
Charlene, like many women in North Carolina, has had to master the art of the balancing act. Managing the time commitments of family and work remains a huge issue for women nationwide, who want to give their all in every aspect of life. Charlene says that the hours are long and the work is hard, but she does it for her community.
“I see children in the community who are falling through the cracks that are in a situation where they feel hopeless. That’s a huge driving factor, but we do get a lot of support from the community as well,” Charlene said.
Charlene emphasized that women need to be a support system for other women striving to succeed in the professional world, especially when it comes to receiving equal pay.
“We’re all in the same boat,” she said. “North Carolina women should be able to help each other and pull each other up. If we’re not concerned about the same issues then nothing is ever going to be done about it.”
We couldn’t agree more.
Thank you to Women AdvaNCe subscriber Bryant M. Colson who introduced us to Charlene Campbell.