When she was 29, Colette Roberts Jenkins was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Lying in bed, unable to walk or even feel her feet, she realized that she had taken some of the simple pleasures in life for granted.
“Such as the feel of carpet on the bottom of my feet,” said Jenkins. “My prayer was that I never take for granted the ground under my feet again.”
In her prayers, she also told God that if she could walk again, “I would allow Him to use me in anyway He saw fit,” he said.
Jenkins says she got her answer in a dream. “In that dream God told me I was ‘chosen’. I remember asking Him, ‘Chosen for what?’ He said, chosen to conquer!”
After her diagnosis, Jenkins did not want her 9-year-old daughter to see her give up. She didn’t. A former Georgia state trooper, she formed Chosen To Conquer Inc., a non-profit organization in Albany that helps those dealing with MS, heart disease and breast cancer by providing education, awareness and holistic support, designed to bridge the gap between direct medical treatment and areas of ‘unmet need.’
Calling on her lifelong passion as a make-up artist, Jenkins found that it provided a sense of well-being and self esteem that countered the physical and emotional effects of the disease. “The more I would get up and put on my make up, I would seem to have the energy to get dressed. After I would get dressed that was it!” Jenkins said. “It was when I connected my mind, body, and spirit, I was made whole.”
She knew that this difference in her life was not from medication and treatments alone and she was moved by her faith to help others. Jenkins says all her life she has felt a need to serve. Just a few months after learning of her MS, a close friend died in her arms of congestive heart failure. She made a promise to him then that she would do something to help others with heart disease as well.
On the Web site chosentoconquer.org, Jenkins lays out the mission of the organization saying, “Chosen To Conquer Inc. understands there is more needed after a diagnosis than medical treatment for a disease. We are committed to help treat the person, not just the illness. The emotional toll and stress of being diagnosed with a disease such as multiple sclerosis, heart disease, and breast cancer can have very lasting and damaging effects.” With empowering programs, workshops, and volunteers ‘equipped to inspire’, CIIC works to make the mind, body, spirit connection.
The organization is moving from its original location on South Jackson to a new facility at 1120 W. Broad Ave. The new location, primarily for administrative and training purposes, will have volunteers and staff for their premiere program; “Make Up For Life”, classes, workshops, seminars and other activities. It also features a wheelchair accessible restroom that Jenkins is very proud of.
The official open house and ribbon cutting by the Albany Chamber of Commerce will be held at 5 p.m. Friday. At that time, a student will be awarded $100 in the CIIC logo design contest. Following the ceremony there will be a tour of the training center. The public is invited.
Written by Lon McNeil. Mr. McNeil is an Albany independent marketing consultant. Find him online at AlbanyOnPoint.