For the past few years, she has been a case manager and court liaison for Calhoun-Cleburne Mental Health. Part of her job includes counseling those with substance abuse problems.
“I originally wanted to be a counselor,” Darlene said. “When I enrolled at Jacksonville State, that’s what I wanted to get my degree in. But I always had to work and go to school at the same time because I had two sons to raise. I ended up getting a liberal arts degree from Jacksonville State which has helped me immensely.”
For awhile, Darlene worked in advertising. Once she started selling, she found herself enjoying it. She sold ads for The Jacksonville News and radio station Alabama 100. She also sold telephones for Nextel, and she worked at a car rental company for awhile.
Finally, she began to pursue a job in mental health more seriously and is happy that she’s now doing what she wanted to do from the beginning.
“It’s easier to counsel people and help them if they really want to be helped,” she said. “Sometimes it takes a lot of work on our part to make them realize that they need our help. Even when they seem hopeless, we don’t give up on them.”
Darlene said many who are ordered to go to court resent it and end up with a bad attitude. The most challenging part of her job is trying to make them change their attitude.
“We’ve had success with a lot of people,” she said. “Quite a few come back and thank us for helping them get their lives straightened out. You can’t do this job just because you want a paycheck. You have to put your heart into it.”
Darlene was born in Boston by mistake. She was supposed to have been born at Fort McClellan where her father was stationed. Her parents decided to make a trip to Boston to visit his relatives at Christmastime, and that’s where Darlene decided to make her entrance into the world, a few weeks shy of her arrival date.
Darlene’s parents are Virginia Audy and the late Donald Audy. She has two sons, Scott Bates and Brian Bates. Scott’s sons, Joseph, 5, and Mason, 3, are the center of Darlene’s life.
“They’re awfully rambunctious,” she said, “just like Scott and Brian were when they were younger. They’re just typical boys. They love to play t-ball.”
Darlene graduated from Gadsden High School and attends the World of Life Church. She enjoys cooking, painting landscapes and gardening. She grows her vegetables organically and said that right now they’re doing well. She grows and uses a lot of herbs.
“Herbs make your food taste so much better,” she said. “You’d be surprised how they can add to the flavor of a dish. I use a lot of cilantro, parsley and rosemary.”
Darlene’s grandmother taught her to make biscuits when she was 5.
“I would stand in a chair and help her,” said Darlene. “Then, when I was 7, I would push a chair up to the counter and make my sisters and me cinnamon toast. That was my specialty back then.”
Ginger Dressing, Chicken Stir Fry, Easy Salsa and Mexican Fajitas are some of the recipes Darlene uses on a regular basis.
Contact Margaret at email@example.com.
3/4 c. olive oil
1/4 c. soy sauce
1 T. lemon juice
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 T. minced fresh garlic root
1 T. Dijon style mustard
2 T. honey
Ground black pepper
Mix together olive oil. Soy sauce, and lemon juice. Add garlic mustard , ginger and honey. Add black pepper to taste . Refrigerate and serve over salad.
Chicken Stir Fry
2 c. white rice
4 c. water
1/4 c. soy sauce
1/4 c. brown sugar
1 T. corn starch
2 T. fresh ginger root, minced
1 T. fresh garlic
1/4 t. red pepper flakes
1 lb. chicken strips, thinly sliced
1 can water chestnuts, drained
1 T. sesame oil
1 bell pepper cut in strips
1 c. broccoli
1/2 c. fresh mushrooms
1 onion cut in chunks
Bring rice and water to boil in saucepan over high heat. Reduce to medium low cover and simmer 20 to 25 minutes. Combine soy sauce, brown sugar, and corn starch in a small bowl, stir until smooth. Mix in ginger, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Add chicken strips and refrigerate at least 15 minutes.
Heat 1 T. sesame oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Cook and stir bell pepper, water chestnuts, broccoli, mushrooms and onions until tender, about 5 minutes. Remove. Heat 1 T. sesame oil over medium high heat. Remove chicken, reserve liquid. Cook chicken until slightly pink, about 2 minutes. Return vegetables and marinade to skillet. Cook and stir until vegetables and chicken is done about 5 minutes. Serve over rice.
1 can diced tomatoes
1/2 chopped fresh cilantro
1 small red onion, minced
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
2 T. minced garlic
1 T. lime juice
Salt and pepper
Mix together ingredients and put in fridge over night.
1 lb. chicken breast, thinly sliced
1 small onion, chopped
1 green or red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/3 cup water
8” flour tortillas
1 T. oil
Heat 1 T. oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Cook chicken strips until pink inside, about 2 minutes. Stir in vegetables and garlic, cook until tender. Add water and seasoning simmer 3 minutes. Fill heated tortillas with toppings of salsa, sour cream and guacamole.