Estervina Davis is beautiful, and it’s not just that her features each come together into a lovely visage; there’s a light in her that shines out, a goodness. And with that goodness is a strength, a power, that she, in her humility, is not so aware as those who know her.
She came here from the Dominican Republic in 2004. In her country, she was the Administrative Assistant to the President of Grupo Lopez, a communications conglomerate that grew to own five radio stations in her 15 years with them. She had three children in the Dominican Republic, and there was their father.
It wasn’t a good marriage, but still she left the Dominican Republic, her good job, her supportive family so she could keep her children together, give them a life that she was determined would be a good life.
Soon after arriving, Estervina began to take ESL (English as a Second Language) classes at Lee High School. At one of those classes, she learned where to go for a medical checkup. At the doctor, she met her interpreter. The interpreter’s name was Gwendolyn. When the doctor asked if she was abused, Estervina was hard put to answer; what would happen to her and her children if she said ‘yes’ or if she lied and said ‘no?’ She looked to Gwendolyn. In that moment, they knew each other. Gwendolyn gently said, “Just tell the truth.” Estervina did.
Two years later, Estervina learned that her 11-yearold son needed to have heart surgery or he would die. Heart surgery? Without insurance? Where would that money come from? How could she lose her son? Someone told her to go to CHP, and when she went to the building in Great Barrington, the first person she saw was Gwendolyn. Gwendolyn took all her information to give to CHP. Ultimately, Children’s Hospital in Boston did the surgery, free of charge. Estervina was beginning to believe Gwendolyn was surely an angel. When Estervina was divorced, she learned their rent hadn’t been paid for months and the landlord demanded she leave. Gwendolyn filed for a grant and found money for the rent.
Gwendolyn also advocated for Estervina when she went for her residency papers with her children. She found a therapist for Estervina’s son when he was aching, and she helped Estervina make sure he graduated from high school by advocating and interpreting at IEP meetings.
Yet Gwendolyn feels Estervina is her angel; she’s been enormously moved and inspired by Estervina, watching her reinvent her life, studying to become a Certified Nursing Assistant, shepherding her three children safely to adulthood, remarrying in a ceremony at which Gwendolyn was honored to bear witness.
Interwoven throughout the tapestry of BRIDGE is Estervina. Gwendolyn founded the Women-to-Women Empowerment Program with Estervina in mind, and through Gwendolyn, Estervina found the strength to participate. Now Estervina takes the lead with the group, organizing and recruiting.
When Gwendolyn was ready to hire an assistant, she realized with a thrill Estervina’s vast experience as Administrative Assistant to the President of a large corporation in the Dominican Republic as well as her strength and integrity and work ethic would make her a valuable asset. Estervina is Gwendolyn’s right hand at BRIDGE, and has been known to intimidate school superintendents.
Estervina voices what many of us have found, that Gwendolyn understands who we are and how to raise us up. Gwendolyn avows that Estervina is crucial to BRIDGE, that she knows the essence of Gwendolyns’ heart, ministry, and mission. Estervina’s eldest daughter taught at BRIDGE’s summer camp for two years and found it extremely rewarding, and the kids thrived with her. Estervina’s second daughter became a community mentor this year at a local school through BRIDGE and loves it. Working with a tough mentee, she would not walk away from her, and she eventually found that this mentee returned more to her than she gave.
It was the serendipity of goodness that brought together Gwendolyn’s clear and compassionate vision with Estervina’s courageous fortitude, and together they continue to create more goodness, expanding it exponentially. (DV)