Her predecessor, the late Steve McRee, also worked in technology before God called him into ministry. Shepherd's Gate, with campuses in Livermore and Brentwood, was founded by Alice Ann Cantelow after she retired from her career as a park ranger.
For Carol, the transition started after she began volunteering in East Palo Alto with Cityteam's after-school program. That volunteer service, which took place a few miles from her corporate headquarters, opened her eyes to the challenges these young people faced.
"It was a very dangerous area in that time. I saw three very faithful women serving God by serving these children every day," she told me earlier this week. "Kids suffered from hunger, neglect and abuse. A 10-year-old boy doesn't want to go home because his mom has multiple boyfriends and she did not want him to come home. He said he hung out where the police department would not pick him up."
That experience led her to advocate for children in poverty and to invite other technology executives and workers to join her in volunteer work.
She was looking for another volunteer opportunity on the Cityteam website when she saw an executive job posting. She called her husband, Rich, and asked if they could take a big pay cut. He responded that they have been blessed and it was time to give back.
Seventeen years later, after worldwide travel to Cityteam operations around the globe, the call was clear.
"Transferring over was an act of obedience -- I heard his calling on my life. The ministry has not been safe. We have worked in the most dangerous areas of the country with very high crime rates. I had a big bodyguard with me in downtown L.A. and visually I saw Jesus walking with me," Carol said.
She credits her entrepreneurial bent to her parents who left England in 1957 on a cargo boat with 10 passengers going to the United States. She grew up in the Concord area. Her dad worked cutting asbestos (before it was recognized as a health issue) as well as smoking two packs of cigarettes a day. His job and habit hit hard, and he died of cancer in three months while Carol was in a Catholic high school.
That devastated Carol because her dad was her rock.
When she went back to school, she was informed that she needed to pay her tuition or leave -- no scholarships were available. A couple of her girlfriends had started working at Macy's so Carol applied and was hired. A week later, she went back to school paying her school fees. She worked for Macy's for six years and said she turned her back on God because of her father's death.
That took her on to Diablo Valley College where she met Rich. He took her to his church, New Hope, and the start of a relationship with Jesus.
That budding relationship hit its epiphany moment when she had been looking for an apartment in Los Angeles with no success. She cried out that if God was real, he would find her an apartment that day. She rented an apartment that day and started attending a Baptist Church in Santa Monica where Rich had gone while he was attending UCLA.
When Rich finally proposed, more than 15 years after they met and became close friends throughout that time, the Santa Monica pastor and a San Mateo pastor co-presided over their wedding ceremony.
Now settling in at Shepherd's Gate, she's learning more about a program she already knew about and starting to ask how the women and their children can be served even more effectively in the 12-month program.
This story contains 672 words.
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