Pam from Matthews, North Carolina

Growing up poor in a drug infested area on the Southside of Chicago; I learned early that life was not easy. In high school I studied hard with hopes of going to college and having a better life. Things were going well until just before graduation I got pregnant. I began working as a waitress and still tried to go to college, but after paying for daycare, food and a place to live, there was very little money left to do anything. Shortly afterwards, I met a guy who was a real charmer. Knowing my situation, he offered to pay for my college education and take care of me and my son because he was financially stable. I thought my dreams were finally coming true!

A year later, we got married, I had another child and we moved to Greenville, SC. In the beginning everything seemed normal, until one day he hauled off and hit me because I didn’t answer a question fast enough.  I didn’t want my children growing up watching me get abused, but at the time I figured it was better than being poor. After five years of continuous physical and verbal abuse, I finally got fed up and decided to leave. We left in the middle of the night, while he was at work. I didn’t know where we would live or what I would do. I knew I needed a fresh start so I moved to Charlotte.  

When I moved, I didn’t have a job, couldn’t get an apartment and only had $500. The only person I knew was a guy named Chris that I had met a few months earlier. Luckily for me, he saw my potential and helped me get a place to live. Even though I was on welfare and could barely pay my rent, I knew somehow I had to succeed and was determined not to fail.

I went to school and earned my nursing assistant license. The hours were flexible, but I wasn’t making any money. I started to see infomercials on television that showed people making a lot of money investing in real estate, so I thought maybe that would work for me too! I couldn’t afford the courses so since the library was only two blocks away; I decided to see what information I could find on my “new career”. The children and I would go and while they read books, I would do research. I was amazed at all the information I found and like a sponge, I tried to soak up all that I could. I was there so much that sometimes the librarians would have information waiting for me. When I couldn’t find something, they were always eager to assist me.

After a couple months I started my first company which was a real estate investors group. Because I could not afford to invest myself, I used information I learned at the library to match investors with distressed sellers who needed to sell. Later on, I teamed up with Chris and we began buying, repairing and selling homes.

As luck would have it, Chris and I became business partners and within a couple years we got married. Together, we’ve started five successful companies which include that original investor’s group, a real estate firm, mortgage company, marketing company and a training and consulting firm. Had it not been for the Charlotte Public Library, their kind and knowledgeable librarians and all of the free available resources, I know that I would not be where I’m at today.

It’s funny how things have turned out because I now have the privilege of assisting the Charlotte Public Library as a volunteer to develop training programs to help aspiring entrepreneurs get started. I’ve also recently published my first book which shows individuals how to start their own business from nothing, the way I did.  Ten years ago when I moved to Charlotte, I would have never imagined, even in my wildest dreams that my life would turn out this way! My world has been forever changed and my life has been totally transformed. Who would have thought that this could all start by just using information from my local library.