By Steve Uyehara – bio | email
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - From a shy Sacred Hearts grad to a pillar of courage for others in pain, Caroline Chapman never thought she had the strength to do it. But after going through her own trial by fire she's emerged as one of Hawaii's Heroes.
Caroline Chapman loves playing with her dog Coda who's much more than just a family friend. Coda is a reminder of what life was like for her family just three years ago. She was just a stray dog when Caroline's sister picked her up on the side of the road.
"She opened the door and called her," Caroline says as she thinks back. "She said hey dog, and she jumped in the car."
Things have changed a lot since then. About a year and a half ago the Chapman family discovered that Caroline's sister was using crystal meth.
"And it came from a phone call from one of her good friends from high school who actually notified us and said, 'you need to know that she's doing ice,'" says Caroline. "It was a shocker."
The family wants to protect her sister's identity but the two of them were always close. So the news was extra devastating.
"The drug was literally tearing us apart from the inside out," Caroline recalls.
"We didn't know who to talk to. We weren't talking to anyone which when you harbor these feelings of resentment, anger and guilt, it really can destroy you."
That's why they started the program "Families in the Fire". The group meets regularly to share what it's like to have a loved-one on drugs.
"The whole process of coming together as a family and discussing the problems we have, the same kind of experiences, the feeling of guilt, feeling responsible, that's what it's about," says Richard Robinson, a volunteer with the program.
Janina Marrero comes from a different viewpoint. She's a former user.
"I find talking about it and helping people with it to be therapeutic and it helps me to stay sober and to see what affect it's having on people and these families," she says. "It's like I don't want to be part of I don't want to contribute to what this meth society is putting on people.
Caroline says the results have been unbelievable.
"It's true what they say if you're feeling down about something, reach out and help someone else because it's gonna help you in your situation. And that's exactly what's happened."
Occasionally her sister does call, and Caroline says she has made positive strides to recovery. And it always helps to think back to happier times.
"Just laughing with her," Caroline says as a smile spreads across her face.
"Driving in the car with her and singing at the top of our lungs to our favorite song on the radio in traffic and dancing while people are looking at us like we're crazy."
Caroline's got a busy schedule. She's competing in the Miss Hawaii pageant again this year and going to school full time at the University of Hawaii. But she still finds time to speak to others about the dangers of ice. In April she shared her story with a group of soldiers at Schofield Barracks. Still her mind is always on her sister, and she continues to hope. She hopes that her sister will one day come back and that Coda's story will hit even closer to home.
"My sister found her," Caroline remembers.
"Like my sister, the dog was healed and my sister will be healed too."
If you want more information about families in the fire, contact them at familiesinthefire.com or call 783-6990.
Copyright 2010 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.
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