One Baltimore Student’s Call to Leadership in the Face of Adversity

Dayonda, a local Baltimore Carver High School senior, uses the redevelopment of her neighborhood—Perkins Homes—as an opportunity to build something better for herself and other neighborhood youth.

Troubling Circumstances

Dayonda Davis, now entering her senior year at Baltimore’s Carver High School, has lived in the Perkins Homes neighborhood for 11 years. When she and her sister moved in, Dayonda was only in elementary school—around 6 or 7 years old. Moving so young to a neighborhood she was unfamiliar with was rough on Dayonda, starting her down a troubling path.

“I remember when my sister and I first got to Perkins, we did not like it at all; we were so afraid to go outside. I began to make choices that were heading me down a difficult path, and after one of my close friends was killed—I wanted something different for my life.” –Dayonda Davis, President and a Founding Member of the PSO Youth Leadership Council and Carver High School Senior.

Starting Over

When Dayonda and her family learned about relocation, Dayonda took this as a chance to start over.

“When my family found out about relocation, for me it was a second chance to do right. When we moved to our new house, we felt at home. Even though we were in Perkins for 11 years, our space was small, my sister and I shared a room, and it did not feel like home. I had to make the tough decision to take a look at how my actions were impacting my family and my dreams. Moving felt like a new start for me.” –Dayonda Davis, President and a Founding Member of the PSO Youth Leadership Council and Carver High School Senior.

Better Outcomes with Better Support

With the support of a new mentor, Taila, assigned to Dayonda from USI Baltimore, she quickly used her energy and ambition to look at new opportunities around her.

“I am really thankful for the opportunities I have gotten with USI.  They assigned me a mentor—Taila. I feel like I can text her whenever I have a question and she will work on finding a solution.” –Dayonda Davis, President and a Founding Member of the PSO Youth Leadership Council and Carver High School Senior.

At this moment, she decided to create the PSO (Perkins Somerset Oldtown) Youth Leadership Council. This Council allows youth who grew up in Perkins Homes to have the opportunity to meet and discuss the redevelopment as well as other amenities or activities they would like for young people in the neighborhood. This Council has a direct communication line between Perkins Homes youth, the Housing Authority of Baltimore City, the City of Baltimore, Urban Strategies, Inc. and the developers.

“I have been elected to serve as the President and a Founding Member of the PSO Youth Leadership Council. In my role, I have the opportunity to lead a group of youth who grew up in Perkins Homes.” –Dayonda Davis, President and a Founding Member of the PSO Youth Leadership Council and Carver High School Senior.

Dreaming Big

Now, as Dayonda is preparing for senior year, she is being met with new opportunities for success like college enrollment, employment, and eventually moving into her own place. All of which USI will remain connected with her on as she journeys from stable to thriving. For now, Dayonda is dreaming of the redeveloped Perkins Homes community.

“The new development and USI make you feel like your dreams aren’t just dreams any more, it’s a reality. Everyone should have the opportunity to live in a home they can afford and feel comfortable. I am so grateful to the Housing Authority, Baltimore City, and the developers for creating this space for us. I am amazed at what it will look like and am excited for the change in the community.” –Dayonda Davis, President and a Founding Member of the PSO Youth Leadership Council and Carver High School Senior.

 

All quotes are from a speech written by Dayonda on her story and success as President and Founder of the PSO Youth Leadership Council and Perkins Homes resident.

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