To know my story, you first must know Teresa, or what I called her, “Momma.” She was a person who would do any and everything for people. Whether it was feeding my friends when we came in from playing or allowing a family member to move in when they needed a place to stay, she did anything she could to be a helping hand when she could. She worked in the school system so her passion for helping was able to be part of her day-to-day life. My mother had been touched by the mission like many of us; her sister, after being on the transplant waiting list for years received a kidney transplant.
In the beginning of November 2010, my mom went to the doctor after complaining about a headache that just would not go away. By the time she made it home from the doctor they called her back letting her know of the discovery of a brain tumor which was the cause of the headache. A story we have heard many times before, my mother was always caring about everyone else that she did not always do the best in putting herself first. I say this because the doctors told her that the tumor had been growing there for decades but went unnoticed. I tried to grasp what she told me and freaked out. She did what she did best and reassured me that things were going to be okay.
She was admitted into the hospital the same day and a plan of action was established with her and her doctors. The time for surgery came and everything went as expected and they were able to remove the tumor. While in recovery things took a turn for the worse. The doctors did everything they could, but she did not make it through. My sisters and I were then faced with the loss of the one who gave us life.
Next, we were then faced with what steps we would want to take. After talking with KODA’s Family Support Liaison, Ms. Janet, we were able to see the perfect way to honor her memory– allowing my mother to help others and give the gift of life through donation. She saved four lives through organ donation and countless others through tissue donation.
After the passing of my mother, my personal healing process began. Like many others I locked those feelings away in order to move on. It would be years before I would talk about the decision that we had to make on behalf of my mother.
One day I saw a Facebook post from Crysta, who works in Community Outreach, referencing Organ and Tissue Donation. After knowing her for a while, she never knew my personal connection to the mission. I responded on her post about the decision we made to honor my mother and our connection got even closer. She asked if I would be open to sharing my story with KODA staff and I knew that I need to so, to help with my personal healing. Afterwards I continued to share my story any way possible whether it was meetings, videos, interviews, or billboards.
After completion of my degree, I had the opportunity to intern with Trust For Life. During this time, I was able to do more that I could have ever thought. I was able to go and learn more ways to have an impact. There I was able to take my love for the mission and start working on the operational side of organization. I was able to briefly become part of the mission in a completely different way. Although my time with them was not the longest, like always, the mission has a way of coming back in my life.
I started a new career and was well along my way when I was presented with the opportunity to return tothe mission for work. I could not pass it up and you are now looking at the newest member of the Community Outreach Team at KODA and TFL. I have been tasked with finding ways to use what has happened to me in my life to help the mission reach new heights in all communities, but especially in black, brown and LGBTQ+ communities. I am able to take the ideas and passion that I have and being able to manifest it.