Executive Director at LifeCare of Brandon, Valrico resident Karen Brooks found a way to turn her concern about unplanned pregnancy into a career. Through her work at LifeCare of Brandon, which is a 501(C) (3) non-profit outreach ministry, she is able to provide support to teens, women, couples and families who are facing the challenge of an unplanned pregnancy. Karen has been married to Paul Brooks for 34years and has two children, Bryan and Kari.
How did you become involved in the charity?
I began to volunteer as a LifeCoach in 1988 because I was concerned about the increasing number of teens and women facing unplanned pregnancies. I wanted to do something positive to make a difference and impact lives with compassionate care and education. After 5 years of volunteer service, I was hired on staff as the first Client Services Director. In 2007 I became Center Director and in January 2011 the leadership mantle of Executive Director was passed to me by President and Founder, Cookie Gray, who started the ministry in June 1987.
What is one of your favorite memories when working with your charity?
When clients we serve are filled with hope for their future and we get to witness the transformation of their lives.
What is one of your favorite charity events in Tampa and why?
The LifeCare Fundraising Gala. Nearly 800 people from the community come together in unity and support of our mission and vision. Clients whose lives have been changed share their testimonies and guests are given the opportunity to invest in the ministry of LifeCare.
As a leading lady, what is one of your proudest accomplishments?
The honor and privilege to fulfill my calling and life purpose in full-time ministry at LifeCare.
Who do you most admire in the Bay area?
Coach Tony Dungy and his wife, Lauren, because of their inspiring faith in God and commitment to invest and impact our community for good.
Outside of charity work, what inspires you?
My faith and trust in Christ inspires me daily to love others and make an eternal difference.
Now that we’re entering the holiday season, what is one of your favorite memories with your family?
The year our family spent Christmas in Colorado; the only white Christmas we have shared together.
What are a couple of your cherished holiday traditions?
As our children were growing up, our family tradition was to read the Christmas story in the Bible on Christmas morning before opening our presents. It helped us to remember and focus on the real meaning of Christmas. As adults, our kids still want to read the Christmas story first and they desire to pass this tradition on in their own families.
What part of the holidays do you most look forward to?
Celebrating the birth of Christ, who came to demonstrate his love for us as the Savior of the world. I love to hear the Christmas carols about the birth of Christ playing in the mall and the feeling of peace, comfort and joy I experience during the Christmas season – “Joy to the World!”
If you had one wish this holiday season, what would it be?
That people would embrace the true meaning of Christmas and choose to live and obey the greatest commandment of Christ: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and love your neighbor as yourself.” Mark 12:30-3
What is your motto or words you live by?
My life mission: “I consider my life worth nothing to me if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me- the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.” Acts 20:24
Cherries in the Snow
1 cup flour
½ cup butter
¼ cup brown sugar
½ cup chopped nuts
8 ozs cream cheese
¼ cup powdered sugar
2 tsps vanilla
Combine ingredients and pat in bottom of greased 9 X 12 baking dish. Bake for 15 minutes at 375 degrees.
Cream together and fold in an 8 ounce container of cool whip. Pour over cooled crust and the pour cherry pie filling over the top and chill.