Story by Debra Childers
Photos by Joe Goodwin
The small café is bustling with trade when I arrive at noon. The delectable aromas of hometown cuisine make my mouth water as I wait at a booth in back. Two glasses of icy cold lemonade later, I catch a glimpse of her petite silhouette. Her hair, a halo of glossy black waves, perfect pearl white teeth, snapping black eyes, she carries her 5’3” frame atop four-inch platform stilettos. The phone pressed to her ear, she tosses a worn leather portfolio and keys to her Mercedes on the tabletop, mouthing the words, “This is my pastor, two big meetings,” then disappears outside. Ten minutes later, Charla Young returns. To my astonishment, she begins to cry. I reach across to hold her tiny, cold hands. Her first words are, “God is so big!” I am spellbound by her vision and in awe of what is unfolding. Though she has received news of a sponsorship for Power to Change TV, national companies with international reputations, she talks for several minutes about her brokenness, her personal walk with her Creator. She reminds me that she has emptied her bank account into her dream, Power to Change TV, that her resources are simply not enough for the world vision He has given her. On this day, as with many other days, God revealed His provision. Charla is not controlling this journey. She’s simply taking one step of faith after another on a path seemingly predestined.
From Mississippi to Kentucky, A Star Rises
Her Passion. Her Power. Those are the two things you immediately notice about Charla Young. Clearly, Charla has a star hanging over her head, magnetizing fame and fortune into her orbit. But nestled at the core of this successful media maven is a dark skinned girl sporting pig tails, skipping down a dusty Mississippi road, reciting the speeches of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. As a young girl, she feared her hair was too nappy, her skin was too dark, and her bank account too small to succeed beyond the confines of Amory, Mississippi. “I can remember making my first speech at the age of two. My Mom had me reciting and acting out “The Three Little Kittens.” I won! My desire to be on center stage started there. Thirty-eight years later, it’s still in rare form. Looking back, I have always been empowering people, from teaching school to my assembly of stuffed toys in my backyard to playing church. Of course, I was the preacher to that same gathering. I now realize that my motivation always included encouraging others to succeed. I pulled kids together in school to study so we could all succeed academically. The Elizabeth Deavens Action Club of Amory allowed me to compete in speaking contests all over the country, including Anchorage, Alaska. Though I was always devastated when I didn’t come in as 1st prize winner, what I am most proud of is the content of those speeches…the realization that every person I meet has priceless value. Everyone. No exceptions. If you are breathing, you have potential, you can have a brighter future, and I am bound and determined to help you get there!”
In her fortieth year, Charla realized that every twist and turn from Mississippi to Kentucky tied her past to her future, and the words that bound them together were “If you had the power, what would you change?” “I discovered that I had been asking people, and myself that question all my life. If I speak to a person at Wayside Christian Mission or a corporate executive at Norton Healthcare, everyone wants a better home, a better community, a better nation. They want to improve their health, finances, relationships, and careers. Everyone I know wants to tap into their Power to Change! I am investing my life in helping them find the strategies and resources to make that happen. I used to value diamonds, pearls and champagne. I still enjoy those things, but now I find myself struggling to fall asleep each night, because my head is so full of ideas to help people. Power to Change TV is about making an emotional connection with our viewers, moving them from wherever they are stuck toward the tipping point of change, and celebrating their successes. Everybody, young, old, black, white, rich or poor, has the power to change. No matter where we are. No matter what we’ve accomplished, we all can get better.”
“I worked at a factory in Amory, Mississippi, the summer before I went to college. That summer changed my perspective, moving me away from the temptation of wild life and partying. Once I got to college, the memories of that overheated factory were enough to keep me on the straight and narrow. I graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi. I thought I would have a big time salary, and ended up working at a local radio station for minimum wage with a college degree. I had to take a second job working in retail. I can so easily identify with the young people graduating in this tight economy. I embrace the stories of single mothers barely making ends meet. I identify with the successful woman who chose to live above her means. I know that by choosing to keep their focus and their determination they can tap into their Power! No one has to settle . . . for anything less than what they expect! You should never, ever, ever give up. I knew in my heart I was destined for more. While working those two jobs simultaneously in Mississippi, I chose to take a risk and went to work at a local CBS television affiliate, for free, as a producer, until a plane crashed three months later, and they put me on the air. I was live on the scene of the crash. I presented well and earned a job as a reporter the next day. Six months later, I was promoted to anchor the morning show.”
Charla enjoyed that role for four years and then moved to Lexington, a larger market. Rather than a better life for herself and her young family, Charla’s finances spiraled downward, and she reached the bottom of her life. Pregnant and deeply in debt, she went to her landlord, Elois Peach, with plans to bail out of TV news and run back to Mississippi. She explained to Ms. Peach she could not pay the five months rent she owed. Charla had already packed her tiny car for the return home, knowing she could at least get a job at a retail store. She was determined that her landlord would receive that money, someday, somehow. But, that’s not what happened. Charla got an outcome she never expected. Ms. Peach asked Charla to write down every penny she owed. When she handed her the piece of paper with its staggering sum, Ms. Peach calmly took out her checkbook and “wiped away” all that was owed. When she looked in Charla’s eyes, she said, “You have a future that is so bright, it burns my eyes! You’ll pay it back one day. But, today, all I want you to do is find a way to help others.”
Freed from her bondage of debt, Charla has done just that. As the Troubleshooter at WAVE TV, she helped consumers recover over five million dollars. She received thousands of requests for help, and earned a reputation as a “compassionate bulldog.” Her viewers often turn to Charla for relationship advice, help to get past an obstacle in their lives and motivation to keep moving forward. She honestly reveals that she has failed in many of her personal relationships, and considers those painful experiences some of life’s most powerful teaching moments. But even that changed in April of this year. Just before her fortieth birthday, her best friend, James Lipsey, asked for her hand and heart as his lifelong partner and wife. “I believe every step in the journey of my life has a purpose. Every step has brought me to this place, to this day, not just for myself but for others. I have married my best friend, the man who simply asks me, ‘What is your vision?’ and when I share my heart, he sits down with a piece of paper for hours to help me find a way to get there…in addition to the work he does for his own company.” James has a franchise of self-moving storage companies in Kentucky, Michigan and Florida. Charla’s son, Tyler, has created a special bond with this man with a servant’s heart who is helping Charla’s dreams come true. “Being a mother is the single most important role I have. Tyler really is a great kid in that he shares his mom with everyone and supports me in everything I do, even when it means less time with him. He’s a 13-year-old with the wisdom of someone much older.”
Power to Change
Through her Power to Change television program, internet television show and monthly Change events, in the first six months, Charla has reached more than one hundred fifty thousand people. The show content has been determined by her viewers. Charla’s platform is to “get educated and empowered in the areas you can improve upon. And be inspired and motivated to follow your passion and fulfill your dreams.” From her very first episode, childhood obesity, to grief recovery, to financial planning and community service, Charla has met her viewers where they are and inspired them to take steps into a more “powerful” future. One of the early phenomena of this broadcast was the eagerness of sponsors to claim every possible commercial spot in each program. University of Louisville remains her title empowerment partner, and Charla is deeply appreciative not only for their financial support but for the experts and resources that helped to bring Power to Change to life. Norton Healthcare, Republic Bank, Manpower, Wendy’s, Charasika Open Access, Houston Johnson Inc., Passport Health Plan, State Farm, Bonedry Waterproofing, and Spalding University continue giving their support for positive change in the community. This fall, Charla will be able to take on more empowerment sponsors with plans for expansion of the vision. Power to Change includes an internet broadcast at yourpowertv.com, along with an internet radio blog show launching in August. The show is already positioned for syndication with the first phase of expansion with Charla’s goal to hit the television markets of Lexington, Bowling Green and Paducah by January 2013.
Charla understands ultimate success must come at home first! “Louisville is home now, and there are some incredible stories of empowerment and change right here in our community. We are telling those stories.” This fall heralds more growth mixed with some change. Power to Change will move from WDRB-FOX (where the show currently airs) to WAVE TV 3 at 12:30 pm weekly, airing just before the popular soap opera Days of our Lives. All of the show’s content comes from one question, “If you had the power, what would you change?” Newly produced fall episodes include texting and driving, bullying, and healthy eating. The Power to Change weight loss boot camp led by Coach Mo will give people the chance to make personal and family changes and be held accountable for making change happen!
Live taping for the Fall Season will be August 6-9 at the Bunbury Theatre. You may request free tickets at www.yourpowertv.com. It’s an interactive, entertaining experience for Charla and her viewers at the historic Henry Clay. Charla will also host a Your Power to Change Rally and Summit at the Belvedere in downtown Louisville on Saturday, August 25, from 2 to 5pm.
“In my fortieth year of life, I’ve discovered everything that’s happened in my life…from the first speech at 2 years of age, every door that was opened, every one that was closed, every relationship that succeeded, every one that failed…all of it was in preparation for the stage I’m on right now. I am doing exactly what I was purposed to do, and I’d do it whether I’m paid or not. It’s no longer about how much money I can make and how much fame, fortune and fanfare comes with it. Power to Change is about empowering people and changing lives. Right now. That’s all I want to do. First, here locally. One day all over the world! Simple. To the point. God has granted me the Power to Change. Now, I want to help others find that same Power!”