A Hero Within

“Every child has a success story, but we have to connect them with enough heroes to get them to that point,” Davina Alexandra encourages. She understands the magnitude of her statement because she lived it.

Her success story seemed unlikely. She endured many trials and tribulations throughout her childhood. She moved hours away from her childhood home, experienced separation from her siblings when placed in foster care at seven years old, was labeled as a special education student in the third grade, diagnosed with a brain tumor in the eighth grade, and aged out of foster care at eighteen years old.

Davina had many childhood heroes who encouraged her to persevere. A foster care transporter, her foster grandmother, a third grade teacher, a doctor, and a high school teacher and many others each played their part.

However, her success story didn’t seem to appear until her early twenties. She achieved the rank of sales director by building a thriving Mary Kay business. She even earned the coveted pink Mary Kay car. However, the success hid something Davina wanted to keep secret – her past.

Davina wanted to keep her past in the past and focus on her success as a Mary Kay sales director. Her early childhood, time in foster care, health struggles, and difficulties in school brought deep heartache. When others asked her about her childhood, Davina changed the subject, “I never talked about my childhood. I was embarrassed and ashamed of my life and didn’t want any part of the past.  ”

Feeling the burden of her past, she confided in a friend and fellow Mary Kay sales director. Surprised by the truth of Davina’s story and inspired by her determination to overcome, her friend asked Davina to share her story at a woman’s conference. Davina refused, but her friend persisted until she agreed.

Davina recalls, “A majority of the speech, I was emotional. I hated the feeling. I vowed to never do another conference.”

Davina failed to see the hero who stood with her along her entire journey. The hero within. While her heroes played a valuable role in her overcoming the difficulties in her life, each one served as a mentor to the hero growing within Davina. A hero who since the first tearful speech has ministered to countless numbers of individuals of all ages across the nation.  Whether the setting be a national stage with a room full of people or a small room with an audience of one, Davina’s heartache and journey to overcome is impacting many.

She served as foster parent, respite care provider, child advocate, mentor, and for the last five years, a facilitator with Be Strong Families.

The past Davina so desperately wanted to forget in her early twenties is the very catalyst for her heroic success story. The everyday heroes who encouraged her and rescued her from some difficult situations, along with her determination and bravery to keep pushing on, developed a hero for so many others. Davina passionately serves foster children who are at-risk for aging out of the foster care system.

Her heart is to connect widows and foster children. She knows the love of someone who has experienced loss is a love like no other.  Davina’s foster grandmother loved her in a time when Davina felt alone. The compassion and life lessons from her had a profound impact on Davina. They connected in a special way, “She was grieving the loss of her husband and a person who grows up in foster care is grieving the loss of their family. She was an amazing, beautiful soul and person. She was my source of love.”

When Davina asks foster children what they want most, their response is not money or material items. She shares, “It’s never a million dollars.  They say, ‘I want someone to love me and someone who is consistent and dependable. Someone who accepts me for who I am.’”

Foster parents are not the only individuals who have the opportunity to be a hero in the life of a foster child. Anyone can be a hero as long as they are willing. Davina suggests people give three things, “People can give their time, talent, and treasures.”

While in the eighth grade, a doctor gave his time and talent and because of that Davina is alive to tell her story. The initial doctor assigned to Davina diagnosed her with an inoperable brain tumor and advised she would only live a short time. He had no interest in pursuing options other than hospice to ease her passing. She remembers the words he said in front of her well, “He said, ‘She is a ward of the state and she’s just going to be another statistic we have to pay for.’”

Those words seemed to be the end of Davina’s story. That is until another doctor heard of Davina’s situation and made a connection with a brain surgeon in St. Louis. These doctors gave her a second chance at life. One provided a connection to the other and the second donated his time and talent to provide care, free of charge, saving Davina’s life.

Society seems quick to write off youth seen as troubled or without hope instead of providing them with support and love they desperately need. If this becomes the case, their story may very well lack the heroes needed to push them to succeed.  “The doctor that wrote me off had no idea the impact I would have in the future,” Davina shares. “I have a youth right now in a transitional program and I think he could be the next Billy Graham.”

Davina encourages others to look to their passion or talents and begin serving through that avenue. Cook a birthday cake or meal, give a gift, celebrate their successes, provide support in the hard times, read a book with them, teach them to paint, play an instrument, or play checkers – nothing is too simple.

Speaking of one hero, Davina recalls, “She listened and showed me love, attention, and acceptance.” That is what each hero did for Davina and what she in turn is doing for others.

While the need for foster parents is great, the need for every day heroes is as well. Be the one who listens and shows love, attention, and acceptance to a child in desperate need of a hero.

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