Charlene Siplin – Family Oriented Breast Cancer Survivor Director of Human Resources

PAM BOESCH Contributing writer
Carlene Siplin

When Charlene Siplin was told that she had been selected as one of the 2012 Women of Iberville, she was very touched. Many don't know that Charlene just celebrated her eighth year as a breast cancer survivor and she thought it was no accident that this honor came during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. "I am so proud to be honored during this month." said Siplin. "It means so much to me that I can represent women everywhere who have had breast cancer and survived. Every day is a true blessing."

Charlene is the daughter of the late Mose Camper, Sr. and Pearl Camper and is a lifelong resident of Plaquemine with a strong sense of conviction and family values. She is a 1981 honor graduate of Plaquemine High where she was an avid softball and volleyball player. Charlene is married to Randolph "Randy Kelly" Siplin and they are the parents of Andrea, Andre', Randy, Connie, Camesha, Bianca, Marcus and Latoya. She and her husband also took on the role of guardian to her cousin's five year old daughter, Demi, whom they have been raising since she was 2 weeks old. Charlene was raised in a large family with 6 sisters and 5 brothers. "When you come from a large family, you learn how important it is to count on each other." says Siplin. Those roots have always kept her grounded in faith and family. Her parents gave her a strong work ethic background and her career has thrived because of it. It is also through her role model, Mrs. Carolyn Craig Brown, that she has become the person she is today. She along with five friends used to babysit for Mrs. Brown and was quickly taught the importance of responsibility, cleanliness, and timeliness. Charlene started working as a claims processor for Community Health Network and later advanced her career at Gulf South Health Plans before they went out of business. It was hard working in Baton Rouge with four children. After her breast cancer diagnosis, Charlene took time off to recover and be closer to her children and their activities. Her sisters, Theresa, Valarie, and Lynn made sure that her husband and children were well taken care of while she went through chemo treatments. "It was a blessing to have my family there when I needed them most. They came to every treatment with me. " Shortly afterwards, her husband was unexpectedly diagnosed with a meningioma, a rare benign brain tumor. Both Charlene and her husband relied on their family and faith to get them through this tough time.

She now holds her self-proclaimed "dream" job, Director of Human Resources and Council on Aging for the Iberville Parish Council. "Thanks to Parish President J. Mitchell Ourso, Jr., I am able to work close to home for a community I love." says Siplin. "It is through Mitchell that I am able to receive this honor – I have met so many people personally and professionally with this job. I love working here…there is never a dull moment. Mr. Ourso means business and that's what I love about him. I try to pattern myself after his motto that "Everybody is Somebody". He is a true mentor. He believes that everyone is important and he takes the time to return every phone call…good or bad, he wants to better help his constituents." Her duties include handling personnel issues for 200 parish employees, all of their benefits, including health, retirement, travel, worker's comp, FMLA, etc. and quarterly reporting. She also manages all four Iberville Council on Aging centers in Maringouin, White Castle, Carville and Plaquemine. On any given day, she may be seen helping serve lunch to the elderly or assisting with transporting them on field trips. "I thoroughly enjoy talking to the elderly and listening to their stories or concerns. They're always telling me that I'm too young to remember what happened. It's amazing how much it moves me to learn about our history through our seniors."

A stickler for timeliness and order, Charlene can be seen working between the Courthouse and the Council on Aging building in Plaquemine several times a day. "People ask me how I wear both hats…the answer is easy. When you have a good working relationship with your coworkers and good work ethics…the job becomes very easy".

Outside of work, Charlene has just finished helping her husband through another recurrence of the brain tumor. She has no problem standing by his side and continuing her fast paced life. "For the last six weeks, we went to Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center every morning at 6:00 am and from there I reported to work for 7:30 a.m. I firmly believe that out of everything bad there is a blessing to be found – you just have to look for it." Thank God, Randy has now returned to his job as an operator at Georgia Gulf and she can go back to traveling with her youngest daughter, Latoya, who dances competitively throughout the country. "My life is a gift and I am grateful to God for my family, my friends, my faith and my dream job."