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Forest Park SGA Earns MCCA “Make a Difference” Award

March 07, 2014

Forest Park SGA award winners  
Front row, from left: Angela Johnson, treasurer; Erica Rhodes, secretary; Neko Jones, task force; Ebony Foster, representative; and Shaniece McCoy, task force. Back row, from left: Maikel Piloto, task force; Brandon Haywood, task force; Derrick Varner, parliamentarian; Keyjana Lewis, task force; and Mame M. Ndiaye, president.

Student Government Association treasurer Angela Johnson turned a family tragedy into a beacon of hope for others when she organized an organ donation drive at St. Louis Community College-Forest Park last month.

 

Forest Park’s SGA won the “Make a Difference” Award at the recent Missouri Community College Association Conference for the Feb. 12 organ donation event. Mid-America Transplant Services was on hand to sign up students, faculty and staff – and 43 registered to be donors.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

 

Johnson’s 16-year-old son, DaVon Steward, was robbed and shot in the head one summer night in 2001. At Saint Louis University Hospital, he fought for his life for 17 hours before he died.  “Miss Angie” was approached about donating his organs, and she agreed, thus helping 23 people get transplants with his heart, lungs, tissue and other organs.

 

Johnson received letters from everyone who benefitted.

 

“It was so touching,” she said. “I met the heart recipient, and we became best friends.”

 

She has become an advocate for organ donations, and talks at high schools, churches and health-related groups, and is also a grief partner.

 

“This is my closure. I am very actively involved. I made my peace with it, and I did what I had to do from that day forward,” she said. “I tell people ‘the life you save may be your own’ – because this saves me.”

 

The Forest Park SGA presented a PowerPoint presentation, in addition to a skit regarding the event, at the regional conference, which was held at the YMCA Trout Lodge in Potosi, Mo.

 

“We won the award by presenting one event that we thought made a difference on campus and through the community. Our goal was to raise awareness in the student body about the importance of organ donation. Through Miss Angie’s contacts, we were able to collaborate with Mid-America Transplant Services and host the event on campus,” SGA President Mame M. Ndiaye said.

 

Johnson, 51, a full-time student majoring in hospitality management and minoring in travel and tourism, returned to school in 2013, after working as an overnight stocker at Wal-Mart for six years. Her daughter, Kandiss Hopkins, is also a student here.

 

Johnson began working in the Campus Life office here and became involved with SGA.

 

“I wanted to be a part of it. I enjoy being a full-time student,” she said. “I try to be a role model, be positive. I’m very approachable. It’s really sad, all the misconceptions out there. My goal is to pool all four campuses together to have one organ donor drive for the city.”

  

DaVon Douglas Steward was a student at Sumner High School, played football, was a practical joker, ladies’ man, and had a “voice that Barry White would have been proud to have at 13,” his mother said. He sneaked out of the house to see his girlfriend, who was going off to college, she said. His murderer took his wallet and his shoes, shot him about two blocks from home, around 3 a.m. July 2. Later, they would discover his girlfriend was pregnant, and Johnson is very much a part of her 13-year-old grandson’s life, who is named after his father.

 

His memory is never far from her thoughts. “He gets me through this. I am proud of him. I heard such stories from his friends” she said.