May 1, 2016
In Carolyn Benet’s life, she’s worn many hats. She was a secretary, office manager, limousine driver, home health aide, certified nurse’s aide, and a Police Officer. “I really liked that job (as a Police Officer.) I like helping people. I find that to be my true calling.” Before all of that, while growing up, she also wore the hats of hippie and punk. “I was going to clubs and concerts. I got into drinking and drugs.” This lead to unhappiness and depression to be a part of her life.
Severe illness, including liver failure, entered Carolyn’s life in the year 2000, starting a 10 year journey of needing a liver transplant. “I was in and out of Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital for 10 years. For 10 years my brother, Tommy, would drive from his house in New Jersey to Staten Island and take me to 168th Street.” Less than three years later, Carolyn’s husband, Tony, passed away at the age of 48. This left her to raise her daughter alone while having her numerous health issues.
Yet, in the midst of her storm of death, depression, illness, and being a single parent, Carolyn would find her comfort in 2003. A good friend of hers, Sally, who was a member of Crossroads Church, invited her to come to church. “To tell you the truth, I really didn’t want to go, but I came just so she would stop bugging me.” Sally’s “bugging” in inviting her would prove fruitful. After coming, Carolyn quickly sensed that she had found a home and the peace that was lacking in her life. After placing her faith in Christ, Carolyn was baptized as a believer in Jesus Christ in August of 2003.
“From the very beginning I fell in love with Crossroads. I felt at home and safe.” Carolyn tells us that the best part of Crossroads was her renewed faithfulness in Jesus. She also made some beautiful friends, including the Goldstein family of Amy and Gary with their children Tiffany, Zachary, and Kerry. Coming from a small family with a daughter, brother, aunt, uncle, and mother; the Goldsteins have become Carolyn’s second family. She’s been Tiffany, Zachary, and Kerry’s nanny since they were born.
As God worked in Carolyn’s life, healing her from her depression and negative behaviors, it was a physically healing of a new liver that she would still need. However Carolyn was not alone. She had an entire church family praying for her. Pastor Ray Parascando recalls that Crossroads was “praying as a church for Carolyn for this liver transplant,” including specific prayer meetings. Carolyn remembers, “All my church family was praying for me as I was sick and in the hospital a lot waiting to get a transplant.”
In January of 2010, ten years after waiting, seeking, and now praying, Carolyn would receive the blessing of good news that she was going to get the new liver that she so desperately needed. “I didn’t believe it. I was sick and used to get encephalopathy, which put me totally out of it. My brother took me up to Columbia-Presbyterian on 168th street. I told him “you can go.” I knew it was going to be a process.
As Carolyn was there, her brother Tommy came back into the room, and he was smiling.”I asked him what he was doing, and what he was smiling about. Then he told me that they had a liver for me. I didn’t believe it. I was in shock or afraid to believe it. When they were wheeling me in and knocking me out, then I knew that something was happening.”
Carolyn would wake up close to 10 hours later in recovery, with her brand new liver. From the very beginning it took. She was in Intensive Care, but was moved only a few days later into a regular room. “I was just amazed. You have to take all this medicine after the transplant, but I felt one hundred percent better. I looked death in my eyes, but I was not afraid.”
This January 2016, Carolyn celebrated six years since God’s blessing of a liver transplant, and 13 years of being a member of Crossroads Church. “The best part of Crossroads is how Pastor Ray preaches. I can better understand the Bible. Crossroads renewed my relationship with God, Who I love the most. I am truly a Crossroads miracle.”
For more information on organ donation visit: health.ny.gov