Camille and Melissa and Grace


IMG_4421I met these wonderful women when I interviewed Camille for the Marengo Union Times.  She harnessed her harrowing experiences as young teen to create her own anti-bullying campaign, “Cam’s Care to Be Different.”  While doing that interview, I got a chance to talk to the other remarkable women in the family.

IMG_4425Melissa is 48 years old and a Stay at Home Mom from the time her first daughter, Grace, was born. She “runs around and does things for the kids.”  She also enjoys gardening, especially flowers.  Melissa is the first-born in a family of eight!  She has 4 brothers and 3 sisters.  She’s a cradle Catholic who no longer goes to church as often as she thinks she should. Her family was very involved in the church when she was growing up, but then her mom started going to a Lutheran church. She found it less strict and perhaps a little more flexible.

Melissa has three children of her own: two girls and one boy.  She thinks the scariest thing about raising girls, and maybe the most important, is teaching them to be strong. It’s important for them to know how to stand up for themselves and what they believe in. “Girls can be vicious and particularly vicious in groups.”  Melissa wants her daughters to listen to their inner voice, not others’ opinions.

She was not particularly close with her own mom so she learned to be closer to her own kids, and tell them that she loves them. Every single day.  When she was a little girl, Melissa wanted to be an only child. All of her siblings are fairly close together in age. She wanted more attention from her mom.  If she were an only child, she wouldn’t have to share.  Plus, there would be money for the things she wanted. Now that she’s grown, she wouldn’t change it.  No one is closer to you than your siblings.

IMG_4424Camille is 15 almost 16.  She love reading and writing.  She writes all the time.  She even wrote the superintendent a three, single-spaced pages letter. But that’s not all she does.  Camille likes shopping and she loves her puppy, Frenchie. Oh and she loves Math.  She’s good at numbers and logical things. She agrees with me, Math is just another language; a language of logic.  Her  favorite color?  Purple because it’s right there between pink and blue.  Her favorite number is 21 because that’s her birthday number.

When Camille is a grown woman she wants to be independent and successful. Well, in my opinion, she already is that. Geesh, I can’t imagine speaking to a student body of 1400 in strange school about the toll bullying had on my life.  That takes guts Camille, and poise.  Camille thinks she’s more like her mom than her Dad because she is loving and caring, putting everyone before herself.  Not that her father doesn’t care, but he’s more hardworking, and he like things logical and definitive.

IMG_4426Grace  is 18 years old and starts school at the University of Mississippi.  She plans to study Business or Criminal Law.  She was a Cheerleader since she was a wee girl.  She’s a flyer, so she gets thrown around a lot.   She sad and happy that she’s leaving cheerleading behind her freshman year in college.  She didn’t make the team.  There’s always next year.  Besides, there’s so much to do at college. Grace plans to  join a sorority.

Grace’s favorite color is pink, just because she likes it and her favorite number is 2.  She  picked that number early:  Dad’s birthday is 22, and Mom’s is 2.  Maybe that’s why.  When Grace is a grown a woman she “want to be successful and happy.” Grace says she used to be more like her mom, but now she’smore like her dad because she is organized and can’t be late.

Grace was the first person to ask Camille to help end some minor bullying and back-stabbing among her high school cheerleader friends.  That’s how Camille’s confidence began to grow and that’s when she began to understand that she really can make a difference.

To learn more about Camille’s Dare to be different campaign, here’s a few sites you can visit:

The Black Tortoise

Cam’s Dare to Be Different Camille’s Facebook Page

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