Pay It Forward: Debra Caldwell of Montgomery

Debra Caldwell says she has always had a love for young people and influencing those around her. But four years ago, she decided to form her own non-profit organization “Dutchess Divas and Gents Youth Club.” She’s instilling love and values to the youth in her community.

“‘Diva’ is not just someone pretty and fancy. It has a meaning behind it. It means ‘Divine Inspired Virtuous Awesome Sisters.’ So when the young ladies come in, we have to let them know this is what a Diva is, so they can be polished, so they can live up to being divine. The gentlemen that come in, ‘Gents’ is for ‘Gentle Excellent Noble Talented Scholar,’ so we instill that in them. It gives them a sense of self worth that they will want to give back to others,” said Caldwell.


Her club of 45 kids is not just for the members. Once a month she invites the public to be a part of activities that bless the community.

“Like Christmas time, God opened it up so we could take care more than 100 families, blessing other people and it comes through my children. I let my children do it so they can give it to them. I say we are going to give it till it makes you feel good. We teach that to them and they are not selfish,” said Caldwell.

Kesha Shaw nominated Caldwell for our Pay It Forward award because of what she has seen in her own daughters

“I have a husband and we both are trying to raise our girls. They are teenagers. They started out in the program from the beginning, so it takes a village to help raise and rear our children. So when our children get to that age where they don’t want to listen to their parents all the time, they have someone like Ms. Caldwell who comes in and steps in and can be an example as well,” said Shaw.

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