Friday, Nov. 18, 2016, Heaven Preview Foundation, Inc. awarded two $250 Diana Alexandra grants to Niya Jordan and Craig Reddix, students at the SGSC Valdosta Entry Program. The event was hosted by Dr. Codrina Cozma, SGSC Associate Professor of English and President and Founder of Heaven Preview Foundation, Inc. In attendance were Valerie Webster, Director of the SGSC Valdosta Entry Program, Wendy Butler with the VSU Centralized Advising Office, and SGSC and VSU students.
As in past years, this award ceremony not only recognized the academic performance of commendable students, but became a nurturing and inspiring platform for sharing touching stories of overcoming adversities. In addition to a high GPA and low income criteria, students were selected for this grant based on an essay in which they described how they had coped with a challenging occurrence in their lives. Both grant winners, Niya Jordan and Craig Reddix, shared with the audience how their faith and the support of their families and communities fueled their successful recovery after traumatic events: a fire that destroyed Niya's house and belongings and a car accident respectively that left Craig in a coma.
The audience was in tears while Niya told the story of how she had to walk barefooted during that cold December after experiencing the horror of seeing her house in flames and while Craig showed pictures of his totaled car that exploded after the accident and while he powerfully testified that the only thing that gave him strength to go on while being immobilized in bed was a verse on the ceiling of his hospital room, the only place he could gaze at in that position: "…but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint" (Isaiah 40:31).
Dr. Cozma also shared the touching story of her sister Diana Alexandra who departed from this Earth at the tender age of 9 and whose death inspired the Cozmas to launch a charity that would help people in need. "Diana was a sweet child," said Dr. Cozma as she addressed the students. "She loved the Lord, had a keen passion for foreign languages, and was inquisitive about deep theological issues. She was everything I had wanted in a sister, the light of our house. She was a gift to our family just like each of you is a gift to your families.” She further presented a nativity scene and pointed to the star that showed the magi the way to the Savior. "You see, Christ received the magi's gifts, but He was also Himself the greatest gift to the world." Dr. Cozma encouraged the students to acknowledge the uniqueness of gifts they were blessed with, their physical and intellectual abilities, and to also strive to use the talents they have in order to become themselves a gift to the world. "The very purpose of our system of education is for you to be successful, to become light-radiating stars in this world, which is why I chose stationery with glittering stars on it for your Diana Alexandra grant diplomas," added Dr. Cozma radiantly.
Dr. Cozma answered enthusiastic questions from the audience and then presented the four areas in which Heaven Preview Foundation, Inc. has been serving locally and internationally since 2011 when it became a 501(c)(3) public charity, namely education, disabilities, health awareness, and poverty. She also mentioned plans to offer addictions counseling support in the near future.
Ms. Webster saluted Dr. Cozma's initiative and emphasized that empathy is commendable in a world in which nobody is exempt from calamities. "This inspiring award event shows that at this entry program we are seeking to meet our students' needs, both educationally and financially," stated Ms. Webster.
Heaven Preview Foundation is currently running Watching over Eden, a health awareness campaign focused on the risks of GMO's (genetically modified organisms) for our diet, on its Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/HeavenPreviewFoundationInc and invites everyone to follow its informative posts and engage in research and dialogue on healthy food choices.
To support the programs of Heaven Preview Foundation and find out more about its impact in the world, you may visit its website at www.heavenpreviewfoundation.org.
As a donor, you too can be a gift to the world!