Early in his life, Charles looked forward to an exciting future as an art student. Life was full of possibilities. But tragedy struck when a major concussion he suffered during a hiking accident left him partially blind at the age of twenty. "My whole life flipped over. I went from being a young man full of hope and aspirations to thinking I was an invalid. My life just fell apart."
Enduring several months of depression, he was lost until he met folks at a Christian commune who helped him regain his confidence and rebuild a positive perspective. In 2002, he began to develop his love of art at the Community Access Studio for the disabled. As a working artist, Charles maintained a very modest life and struggled to find a safe, affordable home. For years he lived in a dangerous neighborhood; “I had drug dealers on one side and a neighbor running an illegal recycling business on the other side. With loud parties, boisterous fights and metal crushing late into the night, I was very stressed out.” He felt isolated and afraid.
Today, Charles life is so different. He lives at Westlake Christian Terrace in Oakland. He attends town hall meetings, socializes with community members and produces art pieces for various organizations including Lighthouse for the Blind, and Chicago Guild for the Blind. “I was able to get away from the violence to a place I can feel safe, speak with my neighbors and make friends. My complex has a true sense of community. Being here has changed my life for the better.“