“Author, mother, volunteer, advocate and army wife.” That’s what they say when I am introduced before speaking. The only thing I hear is silence. What defines me? Is it the things I do for others? I’m Marla, a woman whose life’s focus has been taking care of those around me. As a young girl who spent my early years in Watts, California, then to Denver, Colorado, my life hasn’t been without its struggles. I lost both biological parents at a very young age, faced bouts of abuse throughout my childhood and barely finished high school. I was a product of my environment. Yes, I know it sounds so cliché, but it’s true. Girls like me didn’t end up living successful lives; they ended up pregnant, in jail, or worse…dead. I was the exception, but not without my own trials and tribulation...

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