Attaining Self-Sufficiency

Caridad nonprofit supports single moms

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One of the best feelings in the world is being able to make someone else’s life better. Whether with something as simple as a smile or time spent volunteering for those less fortunate, there is never a shortage of people in need. Luckily, people like CARMEN SCHLONER are determined to change that. In 2000, Schloner founded Caridad, meaning “charity” in Spanish, a nonprofit with the goal of helping single mothers. Schloner hoped her upbringing would allow her to relate to those she serves in a way that would help them enjoy success no matter how they define it.

“Helping others has always been my passion since I was little,” says Schloner. “I used to go and raise money to help the poor, even though, my family was very poor. I was raised by two single moms (my mother and my aunt) with great moral and education values.”

Born in Costa Rica, Carmen moved to the United States where she first settled in Maryland before moving to Leland. “I came to the U.S. with a diplomat visa but later changed to a student visa to be able to attend school,” says Schloner. “I got married, obtained my citizenship after that, started a family and then went to college and got my degree in computer science. I worked several jobs, however, I retired from Computer Packages after thirty years of service.”

The move to the United States proved to be the right one for Schloner. “I really have been extremely appreciative to America and Americans for giving me unlimited opportunities to get ahead in this country,” she says.

All these opportunities are what motivated her to start Caridad, she says.

“It is so extremely important to help single mothers as they are raising their children by themselves. We go to extremes to call them every day, if necessary, to make sure they are following our program which allows them to raise their children in a safe environment,” Schloner says. “At the same time, we teach single moms to become self-sufficient. In other words, not to depend on a partner or government monies, but instead to go to school and become better educated. Our programs are to first help the mom to solve her issues that is preventing her from getting ahead. Once that is done, we start educating the mom to look for opportunities out there with the help of our community.”

The nonprofit aims to help mothers with immediate needs and long-term goals which could include education, job training, financial support, counseling, daycare spiritual guidance, legal assistance, and more. Since its inception, 250 mothers have been helped.

Caridad functions solely through the donations of others. The staff is solely volunteer-based. “I called it a new way of non-profiting,” says Schloner. “Our goals are to be able to have a daycare/school (from preschoolers all the way to elementary school) to start. To be able to be an education center for single moms and children. Obviously, this center will be equipped with all the tools to help single moms to apply for better jobs and all other opportunities out there they may need.”

One way in which Caridad raises money is through special events. “Our next event is on October 6,” says Schloner. “It is a golf tournament. I am very passionate about golf, and it was a must for me to have this tournament. We need sponsors, and we hope our businesses support us by giving us the donations needed to make this event a success.”

The First Annual Caridad Classic Fundraiser will be located at Cape Fear National in Leland. For more information, visit or call 301.312.3435.

To view more of photographer Michael Cline Spencer’s work, go to

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Categories: Women to Watch