“Strength doesn’t come from what you can do.
It comes from overcoming the things you once thought you couldn’t.”
-Debora Lee Ricks
The founder of LLAUS, Debora Lee (Ricks) Chatman - Washington, intimately understands the challenges the youth faces because she has experienced these challenges in her own life. Using these life experiences as a testament, she is uniquely qualified to help the youth overcome life’s obstacles. Although Debora often refers to God’s love, she isn’t so Heavenly bound that she’s no Earthly good. Her down-to-Earth, keep-it-real approach to dealing with young people is strong yet nurturing.
Debora Speaks About the Death of a Sibling:
Debora was the second oldest child out of six children. She was only seven years old when she witnessed the tragic death of her five-year-old sister, Sharilyn. Listen to Debora speak about her mother and how losing her best friend and younger sister to a fire changed her life and what she wants young people to learn from this story.
Debora Speaks About Mental Illness, Abandonment, and Premature Sexual Activity, and Suicide.
After losing one of her children to a fire, Debora’s mother suffered a severe mental breakdown and left her 5 children to fend for themselves. She never came back. Void of a mother’s love, Debora search and found her mother 7 years later. Six weeks after reuniting, her mother committed suicide. Debora speak about how the abandonment of her mother influenced her teenage pregnancy and what she wants young people to learn from her story.
Debora Speaks About Alcoholism, Substance Abuse, and Neglect:
A lack of her mother’s presence forced Debora to be a caretaker of her younger siblings. Her father was an alcoholic. Just like other victims of drug abuse, he often exhibited erratic and abusive behavior and neglected the needs of his children. Listen to Debora speak about how the alcoholism, abuse, and negligence of her father and her mother's suicide set her on a journey to survive and what she wants people to learn from her story.
The Turning Point:
After excessive tragedy, Debora wanted to prove that she would not succumb to destructive ways of processing her pain. Instead, she wrote her thoughts in her journal. Eventually, she would continue this habit while listening to music; particularly the music from songwriter name, Smokey Robinson. Debora became inspired by Robinson’s voice and writing style. Using Smokey Robinson’s artistic genius and her life experience as inspiration, she began writing her own songs and singing about her life.
As a young adult, Debora chose professions in the formal education system; predominantly in schools in the inner city. Youth from all walks of life gravitated towards Debora and began sharing their own struggles with her. Equipped with wisdom and experience, Debora helped young people overcome their unique challenges with self-therapy. Since she understood music composition, songwriting, and voice, she began teaching young people how to express themselves through songs and music.
Debora Speaks on Violence:
As time went on, Debora got married and later became pregnant with another child, but tragedy struck again when Debora’s eldest daughter, Letitia, who was twenty-two years old, tried to break up a street fight between two young ladies. One lady brutally attacked her with a screwdriver and left her maimed. As a result, Letitia became a quadriplegic. Listen to Debora speak on how hurt people hurt other people and what she wants people to learn from this story.
Debora Speaks on the Statement that Charity Starts at Home:
Letitia had two sons for whom she could no longer care as a quadriplegic. Decades later, Debora found herself in the same position. Just as life tragedy tasked Debora to take care of her four family members as a young child, it tasked her to take care of four family members once again as an adult. She cared for quadriplegic daughter, her infant son, and her two grandsons. When Letitia passed away thirteen years later, Debora knew it was time to establish Love Letters A Universal Sound (LLAUS). She created LLAUS as a tribute to her daughter, son, and grandsons. It was imperative to create an organization that would engage in strong community outreach to ensure that the youth would not suffer the way she and her family suffered for so many years. Listen to Debora speak about how taking care of her family created the foundations for LLAUS and how your involvement with LLAUS can save and empower young people all over the world.
What is yourstory?