We’d like to introduce you to Ms. Helen Caldwell, Site Director for the YMCA Virtual Learning Site at Christ Church.
Although not born in Memphis, Caldwell considers Memphis home. Her family moved to town when she was 2 years old, and she stayed in town until she graduated from Booker T. Washington High School. After graduating she joined the Marine Corps and transitioned to Detroit, but Memphis had a hold on her heart, so she moved back in 1983. When she moved back to Memphis, Caldwell said she can remember tuning in every day to hear Perceptions from Maxie Dunnam on the radio and how much it brightened her day.
She has two daughters. The oldest is a purchasing agent for the VA hospital, and the youngest started the first full service nail school in the state. She was also the first African American Park Ranger in the State of Tennessee.
After 26 years of working for the Board of Probation and Parole for the Tennessee Board of Corrections, Caldwell retired for the first time. But she couldn’t sit still and returned to work as an adjunct professor and dean at ITT Technical Institute. She also taught undergraduate sociology at Mid-South Community College.
After retiring from teaching adults, she wanted something to do, and that’s when she began working with children, which led her to the YMCA and Christ Church.
“I’m having fun,” Caldwell said. “I’m excited. I came in here excited, and I want to continue to be excited.”
With the first week of the virtual site in the books, Caldwell said things couldn’t have been any more rewarding.
“You all have amazed us; you have stolen our hearts,” she said. “Everything we’ve asked for, we’ve gotten, and I can’t say that about every work experience. You can feel the spirit, the love and concern. You didn’t just open your doors, but you opened your hearts.”