It very hard for me to make this a short summary; when I find myself tracing back through the pages of my life and evolution. For the sake of not having my website visitors sit and read an all-out novel; Iâ€™ll do my best to relate my life experiences to my calling as easy and short as possible. I was born Charmaine Ingram; daughter of Ernestine Tucker & Horaces Ingram. I have two brothers, one sister, and yes I’m the baby girl of the family. I was raised in North Philadelphia (Wendell Street 6th & Allegheny Ave.) with my mother, father, & my 2 brothers; until my mother moved us up to Magnolia street and Hanes street in the Germantown area. I went to private school at Triumph Baptist Church, from kindergarten to 7th grade. My home church was Second Mennonite located on the 2100 block of Indiana Street, so between Second Mennonite & my private school; I had to learn the meaning of God’s Love and accept individuals for who they are, because no one is “Perfect.”
After leaving private school and entering into the public school district, I felt at the time was not the best place to be, especially because the environment was so different from private school. I will definitely be honest and say I didn’t do so well! I started cutting school and not getting along with my peers. I was just really unhappy and so ready to go Wherever the road took me. God had opened a door for my mother to buy a home instead of renting, which led us back into North Philadelphia. At this point I was turning 13 and I already thought that I knew it all!!
So…. I’m back down North Philadelphia again, experiencing how it looked and felt different to me; my peers have different rules than my house and I was still in the mindset of wanting to help others and worrying whether or not I would be accepted due to my different thinking. That put me in the spotlight of my peers thinking it’s ok to try me, because I really didn’t want any trouble. I became the target of my peers teasing me and calling me out. I became angry at my mom, thinking to myself “why do we seem so different from others?” or “why do my peers think I’m a sell out?” I was only a teenager, how could I be a sell out? My mother tried to explain to me that everyone tends to raise their children differently… Of course I was not trying to hear that; all I knew was my life seemed such a mess and no one liked me. I didn’t have any friends, so I began to question why I wanted to keep helping others when no one was helping me???
Of course I was still going to church, but becoming so angry!! At that point, I really didn’t care about what happened. Nevertheless; I was taught to speak with love and kindness, though it was not working. After a period of time, I started to shut that side of my emotions off that cared about others and loving each other. I was in this whatever mode. Now eventually, this did not turn out good for me. I was getting in trouble in school, ended up getting sent to a disciplinary school, had a child at a young age; all just because I wanted to be defiant and not listen anymore. For years I still wanted to walk in my defiance; hating that I could not share with the world that I really enjoyed helping others and just being there for individuals in need. The time passed on and now I’m grown! (Eighteen) I realize that years had passed and my foolishness caused me not to complete the necessary classes to receive enough credits for my high school diploma. I had to go back to school, work, and take care of my children. Being defiant doesn’t get you anywhere! It delays your dreams & goals for a moment. Don’t quit when things get hard!!!
My self and my husband bought our first house at the age of 21. I started telling myself “now everything will be just about my children & my husband…… After that ” I finally received my high school diploma, went to a secondary college so I could continue my education, and worked at the IRS. My studies were business & accounting. Unfortunately I was still running from God and his plan. I was trying to understand why God was calling me to help others, when I needed help…
I went through many different trials and tribulations from one minute to the next, then I said “Maybe I need to start helping others, then my trials and tribulations will go away.” (Obeying God) I started to help people close to me and even some I really didn’t know. Guess what.., I was hurt and disappointed every time! It was like the more I thought I was helping; the more people would make it seem like something was wrong with me or trying to destroy my character. I just really could not understand, so I went back into my shell of not really helping people, or not really being around people. I realized after awhile that I needed to go back to my roots (God’s House), but I couldn’t! The only thing I could do was take one step at a time by starting to pray again; thanking God for everything he has done and thanking God for my children and mother.
I started praying one day; asking God to help me and show me the way back to some type of a peaceful place. I wanted God to let me know what I needed to do, so I can change my life & go back to the place where I’m supposed to be, putting His word first. Trusting in God; continuing to keep my faith in God and letting Him take care of all my concerns. No more than a month went by and we had a terrible fire at my house. The night before the fire for some reason, I took my children birth certificates, Social Security cards, and anything that was in my must have file & I placed it in my car unconsciously. My mom asked me Why are you putting these important documents in your car?To be honest I had no idea and I could not understand, it was not my intention to do so. I had them in my hand and I decided to walk to the car; with intentions to get something else and left them there. A few hours later, my house was on fire and everyone was out safe and sound. More than 50% of my house was destroyed… I realize then that God had to remove everything that I had place before him. The reason why I can say that is because I would make sure my white rugs and my imported furniture was spotless, my children had to be in name brand clothing; more than I would pray and Thank God for another day.
The fire and other situations took me through some more trials and tribulations. My children and I had to move back into my mom home. I found myself asking God Didn’t I just pray and ask you for help? Show me the way back to you? God Answered Me!” His reply was “You have another chance to do what I have called you to do!” God’s Grace and Mercy had filled my heart & soul. I instantly felt so thankful. I felt like God had given me a new start by saving my family. I went back to church, became involved with the activities in the church, started volunteering at my children’s school, and volunteering as a youth leader at Crossroads Community Center.
God was still telling me that He wanted me to help other women in hardship (Really Heavenly Father??). I prayed to God and said “Why me? I just lost everything!” So time went on; it’s my second year volunteering at my children school and I started reaching out to other parents. I just wanted to see if I heard the message correctly from God. Women supporting Women through ministry! God had started to soften my heart; he was allowing me to have more compassion than usual and working on my attitude while placing other women of God in my life to show me and teach me the meaning of being a virtuous woman.
I decided to really sit down and ask myself how I can really help others when I have made so many mistakes in my life? Can I empower other women, children & men??? How can I really touch others in a positive way? How can I share the love that God has shared with me with others? How can I help the low income families? How can I build with my community? How can I help educate my community on various levels? How can I help the troubled youth?” I had all of these things running through my head. Can a woman from 6th and Marshall really help others? After questioning myself for months and months, I had to really decide what I wanted to do and if I was going to. Would I step out on Faith?
My main concern and thoughts were fighting for my sisters and brothers, that couldn’t fight for themselves, plus building and supporting my community. What can I do to help us as a whole? What can I do to help the youth maintain a positive outlook on life? How can I help my sisters of the community work together and not against one another?
I sit down and spoke with my husband about starting a non-profit that could help families in hardship. Mr.Fortune was very supportive of the idea of us starting a non-profit. ” That’s all I needed to hear ” I started researching, reading, and writing down my ideas. Trying to find lawyers that would help me. God has a plan – be sure of that! There it was a knock at the door one day; it was four different women who all came to sit and chat with me. None of them knew each other and the visit was not planned by me. I introduced everyone and told them what I wanted to do… Let’s just say the Gathering turned into a brainstorming congregation ( Great idea going so we can help some people).
The Great Mrs. Fortune Foundation was in the makings. I found a wonderful lawyer that God placed in my path. God gave me my confidence & that was what I needed to really sit down and write the whole layout for the nonprofit. The Great Mrs. Fortune Foundation was Incorporated February 14th 2011…
I would like to say Thank you to the LOVE OF MY LIFE , MY BIGGEST SUPPORTER & CO-FOUNDER ERIC FORTUNE… also to those who believed in me from the beginning and continued to encourage me through the continuing process of building God’s kingdom here on Earth: My mother (Ernestine Tucker); who showed me the meaning of accepting people for who they are because no one is Perfect.. Love you mom Forever,
My friend (Jabrina Slaughter); for brainstorming for all those hours with me. Showing me how amazing it would be to have a website for the foundation… Thank you & Love you my Sisters.
Sechita Elliot… Thank you for being our recording secretary; for brainstorming and gathering information, also for being the volunteer secretary for the board at the time… Many Blessings to you and your family.
My little sister (Christine Coleman). I love you so much for just wanting to help any way you could. Just being involved, bringing your positive energy and your ideas, and not looking for any recognition in return…
Mrs. Ruth Sew-ell. Thank you for seeing the best in me when no one else could see it! You always smiled and showed me that you cared about me. I can’t even explain to you how that gave me hope that everything would be ok one day. Thank you for supporting the foundation. Love you plenty…
Debra Ingalls.., thank you for Believing in me. Thank you for all the long hours we sat up; making sure we were handling things correctly. Thank you for Being the COO and doing a Great Job! Your Love and Support got me through and you didn’t even know it. Hugs, kisses and Love always.
To my beautiful, wonderful, inspirational, adorable, & amazing children (Brianna, Tianna, Kato & Hyneef). You continue to give me reason to wake up and prosper. I only can pray for the best in all you choose to aspire to become. Mommy Loves You!
Thank you to my technical Support, engineer & web designer (Mr. Jackie Perez Jr.) for working on our website day and night; along with being our proofreader and Community Involvement Officer… Many Blessing as My God continues to open the doors to your dreams.
There so many individuals that I want to reach out and give the same appreciation, but there is just way too many to name. So I close by saying Thank You & God Bless You !!
Charmaine Ingram Fortune , With Faith, Love, Peace, Joy