Living the American dream
Cindy Horton has seen both sides of the American dream. Growing up in foster families and having what she describes as a rough childhood, she quickly got a taste of living on the underside of the dream.
Yet, with a fierce determination and an optimism that has kept her believing in good things, she has since led a life that in her own words is the essence of the American dream.
"I got my values from looking at other families 'cause it wasn't from my home because I was in foster family when I was a little kid. And then I ran away when I was 14 years old and I was on my own. It's been a real hard life, but I always looked to God for support," said Horton who added that she got ideas for her ideal family by getting information everywhere, including newspapers and television.
"I took little pieces of everything," said Horton, who pauses and admits that being on her own was "kinda rough."
After the moment of painful memories has passed, Horton's voice fills with pride when she talks about her present family, which consists of her husband, Tom, and her children, Allen, 17, April, 14, Ashley, 9, and her 23-month-old twins, Nick and Lance. She confesses that she has dreams for them and knows that with hard work they will come true.
"I know all my kids are going to be really successful," said the Yuba City resident, adding that she takes Ashley and Allen to modeling classes in Chico and that April is a "really good writer and really good singer."
As for Horton, now 34, having a difficult childhood, which also included not finishing high school and becoming a mother at age 17, did not stop her from reaching for a better life.
After years of struggling on her own and living in different places, Horton eventually came to call the Yuba-Sutter area home, and has lived here for 15 years. It is here that her dream of owning her own business has come true. Together with her husband, she owns and operates a janitorial cleaning company.
The hours operating her business, she admits, are hard ones. She works from 5 at night to around 2:30 in the morning. She then has to rush to pick up her twins from the baby-sitter and gets home for a few hours of sleep before getting to up to get the children ready for school.
But even with Horton's exhausting work and family schedule, her loving and caring nature doesn't just extend to her own family, but is a wide circle that includes many of the less fortunate.
Horton says her need to help others comes from remembering how difficult life was for her and how others helped her, a A favor that she feels she must return.
According to Horton, this compassion and empathy for others has also been greatly influenced by Oprah Winfrey and her "angel network..." and how Winfrey likes to help people who are less fortunate.
"I really admire that," said Horton, who says she has given money, food and her time to the homeless.
Horton's 14-year-old daughter, April Kent, has seen her mother share her bounty with others and has been inspired by her efforts.
"When we are driving down the street in Sacramento, she stops and gives them money. Even when my mom is on the run, she always has time for others," said, second oldest of Horton's children.
The teenager went on to say that she is also inspired by her mom's work and is amazed at her energy.
"I can't believe she does that, especially a woman, she has to work all night and then take care of the twins."
According to the teenager, even with her mom's hectic schedule, both mother and daughter still find time to share special moments where they talk about their dreams and wishes.
"I would like to become a singer or a writer. I have a book of songs I write," Kent said proudly. "My mom says that she would love to own a ranch with horses and not to have to work so much."
Kent's voice rises with emotion as she describes her mom's dreams and how she works toward making them a reality.
"My mom works really hard all the time and never takes a vacation," said the Yuba City High School student.
And through it all, Horton continues to strive every day and night. She is fiercely proud of her family and a successful business, which are dreams, she says that have come true. She adds that, in the future, she would like to expand her family-run business and have more time to spend with her children.
"It will happen because I have the love and support of my family," said Horton enthusiastically.
The American Dream: Cindy Horton
Category: American Dream
Nominee: Cindy Horton
Nominator: April Kent
Cindy Horton is a hardworking mother like most who deserve some credit for their awesome jobs at being a great mother. My mom spends long, hard hours working for her money. She's also her own boss.
In America, we have so much blessed freedom to pass around to one another. We, the people, can dress, talk and act how we please in America because we are free. Even though some Americans don't have jobs and are under 18, we still have our freedom, right? We can talk to each other on the telephone and via the Internet; to some countries that kind of technology is way out of grasp.
Yeah, sure, we, the bad people of the United States (that still have freedom) can get into trouble sometimes. Life's hard. But we can cope with it. When you're in jail, don't you get the freedom to make a phone call to let someone know where you are? I think it's great that our country can bond together through the tragic times in our lives. I think that if Osama bin Laden would have had a few more options and a few more friends who didn't get a kick out of killing and ruining millions of lives, then maybe he would have had a better outlook on his life.
We all help each other in need, don't we? My mom does. Some people see those poor people on the side of the street with their sign and say to themselves, "Oh, they probably want our money for beer or drugs." Well, my mom is kind to humanity and, even though it's just a couple of bucks, it can mean a lot.
I am very happy to be where I am, who I am, and to have freedom. Our America is growing and learning from all the choices we've made, now we can just grow from what we've learned and become stronger.