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History of Candace Cole-McCrea

Born may 1948, weighed 3 lbs 2 oz to alcoholic mother, smoking and alcoholic father.  Born with right club foot.  Father full blood Mohawk Amerindian, mother Scottish highlander clan immigrant.  Middle child. 

Age 2: removed from home by bureau of Indian affairs as not adoptable (until 1977 amerindians did not have the right to keep their children—adoption was seen as a way to terminate the race).  Put in the new freedom school on long island, new York, a place for severely mentally ill and “retarded” and “disabled” new Yorkers.  Was used for experimental surgeries, restrained in body plaster (except arms and head), sexually abused…etc…all the horrors you read about…until age 7.  An example was the removal of many nerves and the fusion of knees with a kind of cement…and I have holes in my back…none of these things make any sense to anyone today.

Institution closed.  Returned home in body cast to parents who had no idea how to deal with me.  kept hidden much of the time.  eventually walked with braces and crutches and parents were forced to send me to school where I was beaten up by other youth.   Summary: childhood was terrifying and hell.  Father was an abusive drunk.  Kept insisting that I get “over it” or he would “get rid of me”.  I lived in physical and psychic pain…(understatement). 

Spiritual grandparents on both sides took me under their wing and I was blessed to be given a spiritual strength to endure, a spiritual wisdom to help others, and a spiritual emotional self to find joy and beauty in the simplest ordinary things.  this has carried me through.

Multiple surgeries during childhood and adolesence as my father sought people to correct the damages done in the institution.  Never happened, though I did get strong enough to eventually lose the braces and the crutches and walked as though I had sprained an ankle.

Both hips and pelvis were destroyed in the institution.  Also had rheumatic fever and so got juvenile RA. At age 12, when hospitalized, was raped by an intern, and got Chlamydia, which was not treated until I was on my own at age 19, so also got infectious arthritis. 

Was seen as severely retarded until age 30.  Got my GEDin my 30s and completed 3 BA degrees in 3 years with a 3.94 average.  Was blind at the time…totally, really…due to a pharmaceutical error of the bureau of Indian affairs.  Mass eye and ear said I would never get my sight back…that the optic nerves were fried, however, after about 10 years, slowly my sight came back over the next ten years.  No sign of scarring even exists. 

One biological son both 1971.  Easy birth and pregnancy.  (everything is relative and I had been through so much that pregnancy and birth were a piece of cake)  used crutches and wheelchair during pregnancy due to broken hips and pelvis.  Son was kidnapped at age 5 by a robber. The fbi did not search because it was not against the law for Amerindians to lose their kids, until 1977—which is when we also first got freedom of speech and religion. 

Bilateral hip replacements in 1977.  Worked well for a while.

Married a wonderful gentle man (physicist) and searched for my son with college loans and grants.  No avail.  Decided to dedicate my life to help others suffering, including children.  have taken in and loved 42 children to date.

Masters degree in 1985.  Mitral valve prolapse diagnosed.

1987.  right hip replaced again.

Husband died of bone cancer.  Married again, retired Jesuit priest.  We kept taking in children.  he died of heart disease and was about 20 years older than i.  died in 1990.  Opened my home to terminally or critically ill 0-3 year old children as I taught at a community college as a department chair.  All thrived.

1994 my last son, kestrel was born.  Second smallest to survive in new Hampshire.  Multiple issues.  He is with me still.  We have surmounted so much, he and i.  no one believes his background but I dedicated my whole life to him for many many years.  (we can talk about him another time).

2000  both hips and right knee replaced.  All fine until aspirations.  Right hip found with mrsa.  Took the right hip out…no right hip now…constant wheelchair dependence.  Left hip still ok.  right knee started weeping in 2003 after an aspiration.  Continues to weep around the edges and on top of the knee cap.

To date, except for my D.O. that I trust, I stay away for allopathic medicine.

Candace Cole-McCrea currently serves on the state and Strafford County Councils on Aging, the NH Mental Health Planning Council;  the Disability Rights Board and chairs its council on mental illness.  She also works on the national NAMI board for ethnic issues.  She chairs the state Council on Mental Health and Aging.

She has served on her local school board and Library Trustee. She is a member of her local agency’s Family Support Council and serves of the state’s Council for Special Education.  

Candace currently teaches human potential studies at the Strafford County Jail, using a curriculum that she has designed to help empower inmates and reduce recidivism.  She is a nationally certified Employment Specialist.   She is a certified trainer for the Center for Professional Excellence, which conducts trainings for the  staff of DHHS/DJJS.      She has managed a group home for violent youth, served on the board of a battered women’s shelter, fostered many disabled children and after her widowhood, adopted one, now aged 18.

Candace has been published in professional and popular journals and books.  She is currently writing the life stories of three women who were afflicted with severe disabilities in early adulthood.  Her first children’s book, “The Seeing-Eye Dog”, has been recently released.

Candace works using transformational psychology, an emerging field that empowers people who have experienced  trauma, tragedy, crime, disability or other major loss.    Candace uses logotherapy, as studied under Viktor Frankl, a psychiatrist who survived Auschwitz and Dachau. Her master’s degree is in sociology, with a specialty in social psychology.  Her bachelor’s specialties were Human Services, Sociology and Ethnic Studies.

 Candace is a professor emeritus and retired department chair of Human Services, Social Sciences, Education and Early Childhood of the NH Community College System.

 Candace has grounded her life in Gandhi, Quaker and Iroquois spiritual teachings.  Candace offers her services to anyone in need without financial charge.  Candace’s ethnicity is ½ Mohawk and ½ Scottish Highlander. 

Candace has Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis and now uses a wheelchair.  Despite her disability, she maintains and active speaking and consulting business.  She lives in Milton, NH and considers every day a blessing.