Single mom believes in giving back Her foundation helps others give kids those little extras By Jennifer Mesich :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::: :photo courtesy of Carolyn Gable Carolyn Gable spends time with three of her children-Luke, Ava and Jake-at an ice cream social and book party at Roslyn Road School in Barrington.
The minute you turn down the driveway to Carolyn Gable's home in Barrington, you know she's a mom. Instead of putting toys and playground equipment in the backyard, Gable has an elaborate jungle gym right in front of her house. Being a single mom of seven kids, ranging in age from 5 to 29, the large play set almost seems necessary.
"Having younger children later in life helped me prioritize. They live in the moment, so that makes you do the same," says Gable, 53. "You watch them interact and it's no different than how adults act in many ways. You realize that no matter what age they are, you'll always be their mother."
In addition to being a single mom of seven, Gable is also president and chief executive officer of New Age Transportation, Distribution & Warehousing. She founded the trucking business, with offices in Elk Grove Village and Lake Zurich, out of her home in 1989. So how did a single mom, who went to beauty school and worked as a waitress for 14 years, get into the trucking business?
"I was divorced and had two young kids, so I didn't want to work nights anymore," she says. "The roof blew off the place where I was working and that Monday morning I went into an employment office and got a job at a trucking company. I worked at both places for a while and kept begging to be put into sales."
She worked for three different trucking companies before the industry's deregulated in the mid-1980s led her to start New Age Transportation. The company now boasts $15 million in annual revenues and includes AOL Time Warner among its clients.
Hard work has upside Despite all the time and energy it took to start a company on her own, Gable's son, Seth, 25, remembers enjoying that time, saying, "it was nice because she was home more.
"It opened a lot of things up for us and her."
Gable brings her experience as a mom into her company, rewarding employees for giving back to the community and one another, providing a daycare facility that allows parents to have their kids and childcare providers at work and letting new mothers bring their babies to work.
"I believe in the laws of the universe. What I give away, I get back. I don't fit the mold; I care and I want my employees to be happy," she says.
As part of this philosophy, Gable started the Expect a Miracle Foundation in 2001. The foundation raises money to help low-income, single parents pay for the smaller things such as field trips, music lessons and extracurricular sports, that they could not afford otherwise (www.expectamiraclefoundation.org).
The foundation grew out of her own struggles as a single mother and an experience with a customer.
"I had a customer that committed a crime and was on work release, which meant he could work but had to pay the jail for room and board. He had five kids, so this meant no pool passes, no Great America," she says. "That kind of stuff is so important to kids, and they were suffering when they hadn't done anything wrong. I helped them out and then I started thinking about how many other children were going through the same thing."
Take care of yourself With running a company and a foundation, mothering five kids and overseeing construction of a new 80,000-square-foot warehouse facility, Gable's schedule is pretty full. But she still appreciates the importance of taking a little time for herself.
"Moms have to take time for themselves, because that's usually where it all falls apart. You need that time. Children are going to grow up, and they'll never remember that you took that one hour to go for a walk."
Having been through two divorces, Gable knows the difference between being a wife with kids and a single mom. She still struggles to balance it all and thinks single parents do not get the support needed.
"It's very difficult; you've got it all as a single mom. You work all day and then come home to children who don't understand that. They just want attention and love," she says. "Society really puts their nose up to single parents, and as a community we need to change that."
Seth Gable saw how hard it was for his mom to work and raise a family by herself and appreciates what she was able to accomplish in spite of it.
"It's difficult for any child to grow up in a single-parent household, no matter how much they try to play both roles," says Seth, who now works as an assistant manager for a retail company in Chicago. "We didn't have anything after the first divorce, and she did a good job building herself up."
Her oldest son, Ryan, 29, learned the importance of hard work by watching his mom.
"She started the company at 39 with a high school diploma and no business experience," says Ryan, who is currently the director of business development for MiniMoves and is expecting his first child. "She just had faith in herself. There is some luck involved, but if she can do it, anyone can."
Jennifer Mesich is a student at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism and a former Chicago Parent intern.