Detroit Member Elevates Community in Return from Prison

Carema loves Detroit for it’s diversity. “It’s people from all walks of life here. One job I work at there are people from Bangladesh and Yemen, there are so many different cultures here and I think that’s amazing that in one place it’s not just one set of people,” she says.

Carema walks the talk when it comes to supporting her community. She’s a true example of what it looks like when we care for the people around us. Instead of waiting on others to step up, she looked around, saw a simple way to help and took action. How? By making baggies with essential items like food, toothbrushes and socks and keeping them in her car just in case she runs into someone who might need them. “In the city you’re going to see homeless people wherever you go,” she says. “If anybody needs anything I have something for them.”

Carema vividly remembers times growing up when she and her siblings received clothes from local churches and food from the owner of a gas station in her neighborhood. “Some people admire athletes and celebrities but I admire people that are like ‘we have extra food and we’re going to give it to people in my community.’ Those are my heroes, that inspires me. I want to help feed people. I want to give back. When you’re doing good things, good things come back to you,” she says. 

In 2020, Carema hosted her own charity event. “I wanted to see how it would go,” she says. She ordered $1,000 worth of food, clothes, hats and masks, walked around downtown and gave things away. “It was amazing,” she says. “According to my mom I’ve always loved to help people. I find so much joy in it.” 

Carema returned home from prison in 2019. She works two jobs to support her mom, who is in the process of purchasing her home, and to save money so that she can purchase her own home. “I’m going to have one primary house but I see myself traveling all over the country doing charity work, rehabbing houses for returning citizens or people with criminal backgrounds,” Carema says. 

The Center for Employment Opportunities connected Carema with UpTogether. “I’ve never seen a company actually do what they say they’re going to do. [The Center for Employment Opportunities] integrity is just so amazing to me. When the director told me about [UpTogether] I just believed her because everything else she told me had been true,” Carema says. One of Carema’s siblings passed away in September 2021 and she was able to use the UpTogether funds to help with the funeral expenses. “They really came through for me,” she said. 

“It’s amazing and it makes me want to help. If someone is willing to help me and do something for me and I don't have to lift a finger, then if somebody comes to me, I’m going to help.”

Her brother wasn’t the only person Carema has lost recently. Her father passed away last year and a friend passed away while she was in prison, both due to a heart attack. “I’ve had so many people that were close to me die prematurely. Seeing all these people dying and all these stories and it’s really based on health,” Carema says. She is in the process of becoming a health coach and wants to guide people in being more conscious about taking care of themselves. “God gives you different things to look at so you can make better choices. [My father, brother and friend] aren’t dying in vain if I can change someone else’s life. A lot of the things I did in my life could’ve been prevented if I would’ve known better as a child growing up,” Carema says.

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