Hometown Holiday Helpers: Roanoke woman turning wounds into present day wisdom

Published: Dec. 9, 2022 at 3:21 PM EST
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - One Roanoke woman is not letting her mistakes define her. Instead, she’s turning her previous wounds into present day wisdom.

Cynthia Saunders is guided by a lesson we all learn in kindergarten, the golden rule.

“In the community I try to address myself as I would want somebody to address me. As a good person, not a bad person,” Saunders said.

She says she wants to let her light shine, helping those closest to her during their darkest days. “All my family members, any of my friends, if they need me, I’m there. My best friend tore her Achilles last year and she was out of work, she couldn’t work, and she called me and I was working. I left my job to go help my friend with her daycare,” Saunders said.

She helps care for her mother, who beat stage 4 colon cancer, and a niece who was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis earlier this year. In 1999, she got into trouble with the law and spent five years behind bars. Shedding her convict title in favor of strong convictions, in 2004 she walked out of jail and into a church she still attends.

“My past is my past. Right now, I am moving toward my future and my future is to help my family members, help my community if I can with the youth, and to let them know that if you fall, you can always get back up,” Saunders said.

Saunders plans to give much of the $700 she was awarded as a Hometown Holiday Helper to her niece and her mother, who is recovering from knee surgery. Her message to anyone who may be struggling. “One thing about it, God gives you a test, so you can have a testimony. God will turn anything around and if he can turn me around, he surely will turn somebody else’s life around,” she said.

Saunders also says in November, for the first time in her life, she was able to walk into her voting precinct and cast her ballot after having her rights restored.