CODI News – Cara Runkle, Part 1

Cara Runkle is currently a Residential Team Leader at Career Opportunity Development, Inc. (CODI) in Egg Harbor City, NJ and recently celebrated her 5th anniversary at CODI.  During her time here, she has worked with various levels of consumers with mental disabilities and substance use disorders.  
Cara is a true 'people-person'.  Each of the career goals she set for herself, Make-Up Artist, Flight Attendant, and Social Worker involve person-to-person interaction. Though they may sound as different as night and day, they all have a common thread - helping others. 
Cara first heard about CODI while taking a class to become a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor when a  trainer came to class and gave her the direction she was looking for. That trainer was our own, Linda Carney, President and CEO of CODI.  Cara was so inspired that before she left that day, she told Linda, "Remember my face. I'm going to work for you."  And when she saw an employment ad for CODI in the paper, she applied and hasn't looked back since. 
We are fortunate to have Cara is with us and below you will find out more about her contagious enthusiasm.  Please read on...... 

This is a photo of Cara Runkle with her 'fish' sign

This is a photo of Cara Runkle in her home.

Fish Spouts Pearls of Happiness to Motivate Ocean City

Sunday, November 9, 2014 11:15 am - The Press of Atlantic City
By CINDY NEVITT Staff Writer
OCEAN CITY — Cara Runkle wasn’t fishing for compliments when she started writing inspirational sayings on a guppy-shaped chalkboard staked in her yard, but she hooked fans across the country anyway with her pithy fishy postings.
“Words make a difference,” said Runkle, a social worker with an Atlantic County agency. “Often, we don’t know when and we don’t know how, but our words make a difference.”
Bereft after the June death of her beloved, 14-year-old chocolate Labrador retriever, Coco, her “heart and soul,” and shaken by an accident suffered by her father, Runkle found herself floundering. “The ultimate cheerleader,” as she calls herself, needed to shake that fish-out-of-water feeling and get back in the swim.
And so The Fish Says was born.
The finned, fish-shaped chalkboard with lime-green trim had been a recent purchase of Runkle’s, something she bought because, she said, “it had my name written all over it.” A creative writer with an eye toward eclectic interior design, Runkle turned the yard decoration into a tribute to Coco, attaching a stuffed dog to the stake and posting it in her yard in the 1400 block of Pleasure Avenue beside the pet’s water bowl.
“All dogs go to heaven. RIP Coco,” was the first thing The Fish said.
“Jack’s back,” is the second thing The Fish said, written by a friend who wanted to acknowledge the release from the hospital of Runkle’s father.
“It’s a feel-good,” Runkle said of the chalkboard. “It helps me.”
Since the first Fish Says appeared, Runkle has taken a photograph of each day’s saying and posted it on her Facebook page, attracting online followers across the country. Some sayings she “borrows” from other authors. Most she thinks up herself. Many of her sayings reference “today,” a place in time she prefers as she brings her relentless positivity to the mentally ill and addicted population she serves throughout Atlantic County. Erratic punctuation and random capitalization are part of The Fish’s writing style:
    “Today: Be cheermen of the bored.”
    “Random bursts of dancing heal the soul. Bust a move today.”
    “Humility is a fashion Do! Make today your Best. Day. Ever. Why not!!!”
    “Whatever you face today … Be an overcomer.”
    “Something good will happen today. Keep your eyes and ears open.”
“She’s always been that kind of person,” said her mother, Jane Runkle, of Wilmington, Delaware, where Cara was born and grew up. “She should be a happiness coach.”
Two of her favorite The Fish Says lines are, “Listening is the best gift you can offer” and “Go ahead … Jump for joy.”
Both women recall the “jump for joy” message as particularly effective. They say they heard and saw passersby to Runkle’s home reading the words and then dancing around on the sidewalk that day.
“You don’t know when your words are going to change someone’s life,” said Runkle, who decided at age 40 to quit her job as a flight attendant and return to school and earn a bachelor’s degree in social work. “You need passion, you need vision, a little moxie and a chalkboard fish. I’m changing the world one 'fishism' at a time.”
Contact Cindy Nevitt:
@ACPress_Nevitt on Twitter
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