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Dec 2007 - Tracy Beavers

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Moxy or (Moxie) Women refers to women who demonstrate courage and/or bravery to go for their dreams!

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"Embracing Life Without a Safety Net"
By Jean Harper

Tracy_African_Sunset.jpgWhile on safari in South Africa, standing beside her son watching a magnificent sunset, Tracy Beavers was filled with a desire to impart to her children, and the youth with whom she works, that there is a whole world out there.  It was 2004 and Tracy had traveled to South Africa with 12 youths chosen to participate in the International Youth Friendship Delegation.  Tracy describes the trip as an "awesome twelve days with twelve awesome kids".  The tour included several cities in South Africa and this particular sunset was a defining moment for Tracy's relationship with her son.  The view was spectacular; the location was Pretoria.

Pretoria is situated in the transitional area between the Highveld and the Bushveld, approximately 50 km north of Johannesburg in north-east South Africa. Pretoria is positioned in a warm, well sheltered, fertile valley, surrounded by the hills of the Magaliesberg mountain range, 4,495 ft above sea level.Tracy_Pretoria_South_Africa_map.jpg

Upon arrival in Johannesburg their group was warmly greeted by 7 teenagers from the area.  They had anxiously awaited the arrival of Tracy's group and were at the airport 3 hours prior to the group's arrival.  Even after the long wait, the group was overwhelmed by the greeting they received.  Tracy described them as "happy faces", so very excited to see them and learn all about their lives in America.  They wanted to know the details of their lives, asking them if they were as rich as they imagined them to be.  Tracy describes the welcome in South Africa as the warmest welcome of her life.  The kids were wearing old clothes but they were clean, she says.  It was on this same trip that Tracy came to the realization that "money doesn't make you happy". Those "happy faces" that greeted them at the airport that day were some of the happiest kids that Tracy had ever encountered.  With little or no possessions, they were just happy to be alive and to share in their time with their guests.  These kids with virtually nothing offered fruit and even their clothing to the American kids.

One of the reasons for the trip was HIV awareness. They traveled to orphanages where there were many children with HIV.  In many instances they were not allowed to have any contact with the kids due to the danger to the children.  It was during this trip that Tracy saw firsthand the hunger issues in Africa. She witnessed children so hungry they were eating paper and out of respect for the kids they met, the youths from America refused to eat for a period of time because the African kids had no food. Tracy heard of a 14-year-old boy and his brother who died from starvation after giving up his belief that there would be help.

I am not a psychologist but based on the interviews of the first four Moxy women and all of the other stories told to me over the last two years, I am convinced that we make decisions around the age of 10-12 regarding what will make us passionate in our lives.  As we grow older we get swept away in life but eventually we are compelled to do the thing that we feel we must.  Tracy discovered her passion at an early age.

Tracy_Baby.jpgTracy describes herself as being lonely as a child.  As an only child she did not have any brothers or sisters to talk with.  She played by herself a lot.  She had everything that she needed and was able to entertain herself but she was still lonely.

In 1967, Georgene Hayes, Tracy's mother, was 16 years old and 8 months pregnant with her only child. She had experimented with sex only once and found herself pregnant. Two days before Tracy was born, Gene fell down the steps, went to the hospital, and was in labor with Tracy for 2 days.  On December 27, 1967 Tracy Rene Hayes was born in Cleveland, OH,  8 lbs- 7 ½ oz and  19 ½ inches long.  When Tracy was only 6 months old her father had a serious car accident and was thrown through the windshield of the car-his leg was broken in three places and he lost ½ of his tongue.  He lived through the accident but it took more than 3 years before he was rehabilitated.

By the time Tracy reached 2 years of age, through a chain of events it was now just Mom and Tracy, on their own.  Georgene or Gene, as she is referred, was a child bride, and with few skills to support Tracy and herself, they ended up in public housing, where they remained until Tracy was 8 years old.   Gene managed to complete high school and on the day she received her diploma, Tracy was watching from the audience and cried out, "That's my momma!"  Tracy does not recall this event but her mother remembers it well.  Gene was determined to end the cycle and provide a better life for Tracy; a better life than she had known-something that all mothers want for their children.  She started working hard to provide for Tracy, earning enough to send her to a private Catholic school: the Beaumont School for Girls in Cleveland.  At the ageTracy_Cheerleader.jpg of 10 Tracy was sent to France for a month on a Ski Program.  At 8 one of the foundations in Cleveland, OH offered a program for inner city children to learn ballet.  Tracy was selected as one of two black children to receive a scholarship to study with the Cleveland Ballet.  She continued with the ballet until she was 14 years old.  In addition to ballet, Tracy participated in cheerleading and as a Flag Twirler.  A gifted child, Tracy skipped a grade and graduated from high school at 17.

After high school Tracy attended Akron University for 1 year majoring in classical ballet. Suffering a devasting knee injury during class she dropped out and returned home.   At the age of 19 Tracy went to her mother and asked if she had ever considered an abortion. Her mother quickly asked her why and Tracy gave her the news that she was pregnant.

Tracy did not want to get married, explaining that the examples of marriage that she had witnessed were not very encouraging.  She raised her son Ryan alone until he was 3 after which she and his father agreed to get married.

Tracy had a daughter, Colbe, 4 years later, and as  young unprepared married couples have their ups and downs, so did Tracy and her husband.  The downs began to outweigh the ups and the marriage began to deteriorate rapidly and they separated- he relocated to Houston with his family.  In a last effort to salvage what was left Tracy moved to Houston, TX to reconcile  however the couple's life altering divorce was final in 1996.   This time she was truly alone and it was then that she found her "Moxy." 

Tracy_Beavers_relax.jpgAfter being separated from her children for 3 months, Tracy found a job, secured a car and a place for her, Colbe and Ryan to live-together again, at last!  Tracy was faced with herself as a single mother, living in the 4th largest city in the US with no family close by and a few good Samaritans.

Tracy describes her son Ryan as her "Rock".  He has been there for her entire adult life enduring everything that she did through a child's eyes. Ryan had witnessed much of what Tracy had experienced in her youth.  As her mother did with her, Tracy worked hard to provide differently for herself and her children.  Tracy emphasized the importance of communication with both children, especially Ryan.  She knew his pain of feeling alone.

Tracy worked for Lockheed-Martin and Continental Express before starting her first company, a DBA called "Making Nz Meet"-something she knew well how to do by now.  She then tried multi-level marketing, which introduced a new man into her life and set her on a spiritual path. Her feelings of empowerment began to grow even though the relationship eventually ended.

It was in 2002 that her path led her to her friend and mentor Sheila Savannah, who at this time was the Executive Director of People in Partnership with a mission to provide services for families and children through community empowerment.  People in Partnership is a non-profit organization that focuses on non-traditional mental health services and programs by building the capacity of its customers to solve personal and community problems in Houston, TX.  Sheila Savannah had a tremendous impact on Tracy's life and Tracy learned a great deal from her.  She describes Sheila as a person who cares about humanity.  She went to work with Sheila andTracy_and_Shelia.jpg this gave Tracy the opportunity to give the one thing that she had always wanted for herself-someone to be there and to listen, anytime, day or night, and she has been doing that ever since. Sheila resigned from People in Partnership and Tracy took over as the Executive Director.

Her work with Sheila and People in Partnership led her to work with the Tavis Smiley Foundation.  The Smiley Foundation traveled the country conducting one-day workshops in 10 cities across the country.  Tracy and Sheila's group participated in the workshop in Houston and Tavis noted that they had the largest number of participants, which led them to be contracted by Tavis Smiley's organization.  They traveled to Washington, DC with 40 kids from Texas, and Tavis brought in 600 young people for a youth-led, adult-supported, community-building event.  The event consisted of workshops and forums with celebrities and elected officials and it was a great experience for the children.

(Tracy and Sheila Savannah- photo above)

Tracys_Colbie.jpgTracy describes her daughter Colbe as her buddy, her strength.  Colbe is now 15 years old and has been on radio and commercials.  Tracy spends a lot of time with her daughter and keeps her very busy!

Tracy's daughter Colbe photo (left)

What Tracy Beavers wants most is to help her children figure out who they are, to help them find their interests and encourage them to pursue their dreams.  To this end, Tracy enthusiastically began to say, "Discover yourself for free, do everything, laugh about what you do, live and dance without a safety net."

Tracy's extensive and dedicated involvement with her own children's activities, including volunteering at summer community centers, church camps, and traveling with the youth delegates to South Africa, made her the "go-to parent" for other parents who sought programs and activities for their children.

Tracy's talent and desire to work with youth also prompted the Tavis Smiley Foundation to appoint her to its National Advisory Committee and to lead efforts to organize the Youth to Leaders program alumni in the Houston area.  Tracy has volunteered countless hours at the Youth to Leaders program and young people have described Tracy as someone that is easy to talk to and someone who listens.Tracys_Ryan.jpg

Tracy's son Ryan- photo (below) right

Tracy was named last year's Most Outstanding Texan Volunteer by Texas Congressman Al Green and was recently named by the Tavis Smiley Foundation as the 2007 Adult Volunteer of the Year.

In 2006 Tracy and Dr. Xyna Bell, a psychologist, established SELF DNA that facilitates a weekly holistic group for women.  In addition Tracy and Sheila Savannah co-founded the consulting firm, Ibis International- a strategic consulting firm.

I asked Tracy where she sees herself in the next 10 years and she replied, "I will be a well-known published author and speaker, living life, teaching people how to live without a safety net, how to set their soul free, how to let go of fear and  learn who they are,  and finally get butt-naked in your soul."

I contacted some of Tracy's friends and the theme was the same-they all wanted to tell me about Tracy. Here are a few words from one of them:

"Tracy is a special person who shares herself with others in hope to make them realize how special they are".  "Tracy is a ‘go-getter', constantly in motion, always learning, always growing, and always giving." "She volunteers endless hours with youths to not only guide them to the right path, but to keep them on the right path." "In doing all this, there is no financial reward."  "She has received accolades, some plaques, some certificates, and some award dinners, but nothing that compensates her for her time, gas, affections, lack of sleep, personal expenses...nothing."  "Still, she does what she does. Sometimes it is not the youth but the women's group where she invests her time to try to help other women who have perhaps become a statistic or are on the precipice of becoming one." "Where my patience runs out, Tracy finds these ‘reserves' to see tasks to the end that I would just, literally, put my hands up."  "And maybe because she never gives up can she not give up on others...the youth...other women."-from Tracy's long-time friend Deidre Brooks.

At her son Ryan's high school graduation, Tracy sang to him this song by Regina Belle:


Ryan- During High School Graduation (above)


Lyrics: If I Could-Regina Belle


If I could
I'd protect you from the sadness in your eyes
Give you courage in a world of compromise
Yes, I would

If I could
I would teach you all the things I've never learned
And I'd help you cross the bridges that I've burned
Yes, I would

If I could
I would try to shield your innocence from time              
But the part of life I gave you isn't mine
I'll watch you grow, so I can let you go

If I could
I would help you make it through the hungry years
But I know that I can never cry your tears, babe
But I would If I could

If I could
In a time and place where you don't wanna be
You don't have to walk along this road with me
My yesterday won't have to be your way

If I knew
I'd try to change the world I brought you to
Now there isn't much more that I can do
But I would If I could

If I could
I would try to shield your innocence from time
But the part of life I gave you isn't mine
I'll watch you grow, so I can let you go

If I could
I'd help you make it through the hungry years
But I know that I can never cry your tears
But I would If I could

If I could


Tracy Rene Beavers also shared a quotation with me that she heard from another of her mentors, Ada Edwards, a lifetime community activist and Councilwoman in Houston:

"Open your arms and embrace your pain tighter and tighter until it shrinks and you're left hugging yourself."

Tracy Beavers is no longer lonely; she has plenty of friends, women and youth to keep her busy.  She is in the process of writing a book titled "Reflection to 20", which will provide great read and not to mention fantastic insight into Tracy's life.

Enjoy more photos below:

Tracy with actress celebrity- Terri Vaughn

Tracy with Tavis Smiley (above)

Tracy with Colbie and Ryan - their reunion

Tracy with Keith Wade during "Most Outstanding Texan Volunteer" Award Ceremony


Four Generations- Gene Crosby (Tracy's Mom) Tracy, Colbie and Grandmother, Delores (red sweater)

Tracy with her dog

 Tracy Beavers- YOU are loved!

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