Virginia Franks ("Aunt Ginny") and Elizabeth Bell Midgett ("Big Mama") *
Carobell began as Carobell Children's Home - a home for what was then referred to as "profoundly retarded and handicapped" children under the age of six years. From their experiences as Kindergarten Supervisor and Mother and Navy Relief Executive Secretary and Teacher, both Elizabeth Midgett and Virginia Franks* became aware of the inadequacy of care for the very young child in North Carolina with a disability diagnosis. Having independently known the loving care of their own mothers, these two decided to make the effort to provide loving and adequate care for such very special children. Carobell is a name derived from the names of their mothers, and the kind of care Carobell strives to offer is distinctively drawn from the kind of care they enjoyed as children.
On July 1st of 1969, Carobell opened its doors to Wendy, a child with an initial life-expectancy of three days. After Wendy came, soon followed Jodi, Woody, Tina Marie, Ralph and Al. It was the original intention that only six such children were to be served, but the need quickly overwhelmed that resolve. Since that day in July 1969, over 140 individuals have called Carobell home. In looking at how Carobell has evolved, it is important to remember that although Woody succumbed to his disabilities at the age of 5, Wendy lived to be over 18 years old, Ralph, Tina Marie and Al lived well into their 20's, and Jodi has just celebrated her 40th birthday!
These facts have tremendous significance and the impact on Carobell has been great. For us, it means that we cannot and do not gear our program to a predetermined life expectancy -- the possibilities for our individuals is unlimited!
*Shown here accepting the Onslow County Women of the Year Award in 1972.