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'21 Strong: Cleveland area reverend dedicates her life to serving others

Rev. Carolyn Greene's road to recovery took 25 years, but she made it out alive with a new purpose: Restoring the community one neighbor at a time.

CLEVELAND — Rev. Carolyn Greene is a pillar in the community. Volunteering and helping those around her comes naturally.

But what didn't come easily? Recovery.

"I started drinking at the age of 12 and I finally went to recovery at the age of 37," Carolyn told us.

That means, for 25 years, Greene's demons took everything and everyone she loved away from her.

"I had been doing this for a long time in the streets: homeless, lost my children, lost jobs, lost friends," she said. "I was blaming everyone else: the system, my family, situations, boyfriends, and I never took a look at me."

Greene made a decision to get sober and fight for her kids and her life.

"I did what I needed to do to go to treatment, to satisfy the department of children and family services in order to receive my children back," she said.

All the while, her dedication to changing her life never waivered.

"They had me do treatment-wise parenting class twice, and it didn't matter because I wanted my children," she said. "I wanted the opportunity to be the mother that I knew I could be."

Carolyn started work, but something deeper was calling her: A life of service.

"So I quit my job and I got up every morning and I would go to the grocery stores or somewhere on the street and find women, asking them [if] they need help, you know?" she remembered. "I would take them home if I felt safe. I would help them with their groceries and just walk with them and talk with them."

Greene's service transcended into local neighborhoods, delivering lunches and groceries to families in need.

"And I was like, 'Where [are] all the little children?' They need these lunches, especially during the COVID time with parents working, kids not in school," she told us. "So I went through the neighborhood, looking for children."

Today, Carolyn is the mother of four children, grandmother to 16. She's an active volunteer and reverend in local churches as well as a licensed drug and alcohol counselor. 

"I opened up my own business during the COVID times and it is called Greene Acres Counseling and Group Services."

Greene works hard to guide others to the light she found more than 25 years ago.

"You know, there's shame, there's guilt, there's all kinds of things, but if someone in the community stands up and says, 'Here's my hand, I'll walk with you, I'll go with you,' we'll make it better," she said.

Bettering herself, is a priority, too. She's currently on track for her second master's degree, and she's studying for another therapy certificate.

With Carolyn Greene's hope, healing and restoration of communities, she's the epitome of '21 Strong. If you think you can benefit from Greene Acres Counseling, click HERE.

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