2023 Groundbreaker Awards Nominee: Ms. Caren Turner

Posted September 26, 2023

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Project Info

Ms. Caren Turner

Wilmington, DE

Equity and Community Leadership


Project Description

Caren Turner was born, and raised with her Father, Mother, and 13 siblings, in West Center City, Wilmington DE, where she still resides for over 60+ years. Throughout the years and among many challenges, Ms. Caren has prevailed with extreme dedication and commitment to advocate for civil rights, residents’ rights, and justice for those in need.

In addition to her grateful work in advancing civil rights and strengthening the commitment of diversity, equity, and inclusion, throughout Delaware, she has also been an avid supporter for people living with disabilities and people living in place as they age. Ms. Caren also effectively uses the mediums of art, community meetings, murals, table games, and park gatherings as tools to address the needs in the community. 

Ms. Caren has been employed by Interfaith Community Housing of DE, Inc., for 35 years spending 17 years in Property Management. She managed the Summer Cooling Assistance Program (SCAP), under contract with the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services, Division of State Service Centers , Office of Community Services, from funding through the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). SCAP’s annual budget was $350K which provided free window air conditioners to income-eligible households in the State of Delaware. She was responsible for taking three community residents to the first NeighborWorks CLI training in Baltimore in 2007. As a result of this training our leadership program began for youth called “LYTE” Youth Ambassadors, “Leading Youth Towards Excellence”. Our motto: “If you want to be somebody, you better wake up and pay attention.”

In 2010 - 2012, Ms. Caren was tasked with bringing community members, youth, stakeholders, partners, businesses and non-profits together to come up with a community plan plan to submit to Wells Fargo. Wells Fargo granted $650K to implement our community plan for five years.

During the recent health crisis, 2020 – 2021 there was an immediate need to assist people in the neighborhood with basic tasks, such as getting medicines delivered, shoveling snow, picking up food and personal items. Several mini grants of 5K each were secured. A neighborhood handy man program was established.

Most recently, in 2022, $174K was secured for a West Center City Community non- profit to save 10 properties from being sold at sheriff sale.

Secured $8K in collaboration with other non-profits to facilitate energy assessments for a congregation in West Center City, to help them reduce their burden, carbon footprint, and educate congregants on energy efficiency. Secured $9K to launch a Seed Grant Opportunity as an extension of the Faith Efficiency Program to financially assist Houses of Worship to get started with energy remediation work. Worked with Delaware Interfaith Power & Light, to support the National Wildlife Federation’s Sacred Grounds Initiative in collaboration with several non-profits to create pollinator gardens with faith partners in West Center City. A goal is to move into hosting more dialogues on climate stewardship, solar energy, solar energy panels, community solar energy rebates and climate conversations. She has also been actively serving her community through her roles on numerous boards and advisory councils including the Mayor’s Access Wilmington Advisory Committee advocating for people with disabilities, a member on Mayor’s Wilmington Health Planning Council, and chairperson on the Mayor’s Wilmington Aging Advisory Council.

Recently, Ms. Caren joined forces with a local non-profit organization, as a Board of Director of Delaware Interfaith Power & Light supporting their climate and creation care efforts. In all that she does, Ms. Caren builds relationships based on genuine engagement, real listening, and authentic shared values. She speaks truth to power in a way that honors, rather than hides, the emotional impact of injustice and racism both personally and systematically. She gives voice to that emotional truth, she holds that vulnerability and honesty as strength, dignity, and power – a rare and transformative approach in a culture that frequently shames and silences truth and emotion.

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