Steve Pemberton is the Divisional Vice-President and Chief Diversity Officer for Walgreen’s (the first person to hold that responsibility in the company’s 110-year history). As a graduate of Boston College, Pemberton understands what it takes to achieve success in the business and academic world. However, there was a time, a long stretch of his life, when success wasn’t even on his radar. His sole focus was on surviving the day. Here is his story.
"A CHANCE IN THE WORLD is well written and offered without an ounce of self-pity or bitterness. Steve’s courage is a tribute to the resilience of the human spirit and to the God who designed it."
Pemberton didn’t even go by the same name as a child. Taken from his mother when he was only three, Steve Klakowicz recalls a specific memory --- or was it a dream? In this memory, Steve is riding in the backseat of a car with another child next to him and two people sitting in the front. They arrive at what Steve thinks is a hospital and where the other child is taken from him, and it saddens him. He is placed in the car again, they stop again, and Steve is taken into another building where someone carries him to a warm bed and is assured, “You’re going to be okay now.” Steve falls asleep.
For many years, this recurring dream or memory would haunt young Steve into adulthood when he would learn the truth. This persistent dream/memory was the day he was taken from his mother, never to see her again. It is at this poignant opening that Steve begins sharing his horrific childhood existence living with various abusive foster parents. He offers his story in chronological order as he recalls it, and with every single story, there is an accompanying physical, mental or emotional heartache rendered by the hands of adults chosen to care for him.
The first family he lived with decided to leave Steve alone on their porch until past dark, which is terrifying to a young preschooler. Fortunately, his stay with that family didn’t last. What is too terrible to consider, though, is that the next family Steve was sent to grow up with was a hundred times worse. Beatings, food deprivation, horrible living conditions, and simple sheer daily terror became Steve’s companions. With every account he shares, it becomes more outrageous that some adult neighbor, teacher, or social worker didn’t rescue this boy out of his tortuous life. Even when Steve found the courage to plead for help, it fell mainly on deaf ears.
Thankfully, God did rescue Steve as a teen out of his prison, and he started to rebuild his life with the support of a few good individuals who gave him practical help, hope, and a reason to keep trying. Despite having all odds against him, Steve excelled in school, graduated from Boston College, and has worked to piece together the mysteries of his missing family. Embracing a never-give-up stance, Steve eventually located his siblings and found some peace in attempting to reconcile with the failings of his deceased parents. Steve’s story is incredibly emotional to read; hopefully by sharing it, every reader will be far more conscious of the welfare of every child they encounter in this life.
A CHANCE IN THE WORLD is well written and offered without an ounce of self-pity or bitterness. Steve’s courage is a tribute to the resilience of the human spirit and to the God who designed it.
Reviewed by Michele Howe on February 17, 2012