November 1, 2005 Regular News Passion burns for woman who has become the ‘unofficial’ spokeswoman for the Kids Deserve Justice plate Camille Murawski Special to the News When Lavina Johnson was just 10 years old, she gripped a pistol with both hands and placed it in her mouth. Lavina had been sexually molested since she was 2, and she was tired, so very tired. Surely, she thought, it would be better to die than to live.Tears rolled down her cheeks as Lavina paused. She noticed the bitter taste of gunpowder residue on the cold hard barrel. Somewhere, in the distance, a child laughed. In the span of that moment, Lavina had one new thought on her mind: “I want to live.”Lavina Johnson, now 38, has crawled from the abyss of despair that day in Paterson, N.J., to become the unofficial spokeswoman for the Kids Deserve Justice specialty license plate. Kids Deserve Justice, one of Florida’s newest specialty tags, funds free legal services for children. Every dollar of the $25 cost of Kids Deserve Justice will go toward grants administered through The Florida Bar Foundation. The Foundation began funding special legal services programs for children in 1999, and last year awarded $697,000 to 15 programs throughout the state. Since the plate’s April debut, sales and donations have recently passed $11,000.The funds generated from the sale of the plate will be used in a variety of ways, including representation of abused or neglected children in dependency court, helping parents advocate before school officials to obtain special education testing and services for their children, helping low-income children gain access to health care, and helping older individual foster children receive the intended services necessary for them to successfully transition out of state care and avoid homelessness.Much of the work done by Foundation-funded children’s legal aid projects goes unnoticed. But just ask, and Johnson will tell you how children’s legal services has changed her own children’s lives.It hasn’t been easy, Johnson acknowledged. Growing up in the projects might have turned a lesser person bitter. “Bitter people can’t hear children laugh,” Johnson said.Johnson and her husband, Rodney, live in Midway, and have four children. Lavina beams as she talks about the accomplishments of each. Raising them to be caring, happy people has also been a struggle, and not just because the Johnsons are poor. For years — nobody knows just how many — a stealthy tumor camped out in Lavina Johnson’s brain, growing cancerous tentacles until it took up nearly a quarter of the space in Lavina’s skull.Lavina never knew. Well-meaning family members covered up her fainting spells. She had never even had a bad headache until one day in 1996, when she was driving to a local grocery store. “I thought someone had shot me,” Lavina said.And even though it wasn’t until months later that a surgeon cut into Lavina’s brain and scooped out as much of the tumor as he could, Lavina still is not bitter. Even when she was nearly electrocuted by faulty wiring in a subsidized home, Lavina kept her cheery attitude. And recently, when she suffered third-degree burns from a grease fire over much of her leg, Lavina has kept smiling. “Why not me?” Lavina asked. “My misery don’t love company. I want everyone to be happy.”Lavina wants everyone to be happy, but she has a special place in her heart for children. Once, when Lavina was picking up her daughter from school, she encountered a crying child. The girl was crying, Lavina said, because she had just moved to the area and was afraid no one would like her. Lavina promised to introduce the child to her own daughter, and a friendship blossomed.Despite a kindness somehow borne out of those bleak days in Paterson, Lavina is not to be trifled with. Soon after she enrolled her children in high school, Lavina said her daughter was attacked by some fellow students.Lavina reported the incident, but trouble kept simmering at the school. Rumors began to circulate that Lavina’s son was the next target. Again, Lavina reported the incident. Again, the matter was largely ignored.About five months after the incident with her daughter, Lavina’s son was attacked. School administrators responded by suspending him, and threatening him with expulsion. Johnson knew she would need an attorney. She contacted Legal Services of North Florida and spoke with Tara Rosenblum and Scott Manion.As Rosenblum, a former teacher, reviewed Marquiece Johnson’s school records, she became convinced that the young man might be an “unidentified exceptional education student.” Rosenblum said she and Manion represented Marquiece at a school hearing during his suspension that resulted in his not being recommended for expulsion (and they requested that he be tested for ESE — exceptional student educational services).Lavina Johnson knew she had found the right person to help her son. “She has passion,” Johnson said of Rosenblum. “She had Marquiece’s back. She made it about my child and she fought the good fight.” Because of Rosenblum’s legal intervention, Marquiece is now in the process of ESE testing, and he has enrolled at a local technical institute. Marquiece is studying welding, and is planning to help rebuild New Orleans once he receives his certificates.Rosenblum called Lavina Johnson “an amazing woman who never gives up. I’ve never seen anyone like her.”Lavina Johnson has no intention of giving up. “I believe in children’s legal services so much,” she said. Looking back, Johnson said she wished she would have known about legal aid in high school. When she was a 17-year-old student, Johnson said other students harassed her. According to Johnson, when she tried to report the incidents, she was largely ignored by school administrators. Knowledge is a powerful thing, Johnson said, and she simply didn’t know that what was happening to her could have been a case for legal aid.Because of Lavina Johnson’s passion for justice, she was recruited to speak at a recent press conference for Kids Deserve Justice. She told her story to a rapt audience as children blew a rainbow of bubbles in the background. “To have any lasting impact on the world,” Johnson read, “We must focus our energy on people, not profits or success. If we can help one person, our efforts will never be in vain.” Camille Murawski is the communications coordinator for The Florida Bar Foundation and can be reached by calling (407) 843-0045 or e-mail [email protected] flabarfndn.org. Woman on fire: Lavina Johnson’s crusade for justice Woman on fire: Lavina Johnson’s crusade for justice
Metro Sport ReporterSunday 15 Mar 2020 2:39 pmShare this article via facebookShare this article via twitterShare this article via messengerShare this with Share this article via emailShare this article via flipboardCopy link4.9kShares Advertisement Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Wayne Rooney during a training session with England (Picture: Getty)Manchester United legend Wayne Rooney has revealed that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain had never even heard of Marc Overmars when he urged him to watch videos of the iconic Dutchman during a training session with England.Overmars won the Premier League, the FA Cup and the Charity Shield across his three seasons with Arsenal and scored 41 goals for the north London giants before completing a move to Barcelona in the summer of 2000. Though Overmars is widely regarded as one of the most talented players in the Gunners’ history, he somehow never appeared on Oxlade-Chamberlain’s radar when the Liverpool star was making his breakthrough in football. Comment Overmars spent three years with the Gunners before joining Barcelona (Picture: Getty)It’s especially surprising considering Oxlade-Chamberlain was playing for Arsenal when he had the training-ground conversation with Rooney.AdvertisementAdvertisementADVERTISEMENTSpeaking to The Times, Rooney explained: ‘I’ve spoken to young players — a lot of the stuff they’re watching is freestylers, skills and they actually don’t watch the right stuff‘I remember speaking to [Alex] Oxlade-Chamberlain in the England squad. He was at Arsenal. I said to him, “You’re coming to the ball too much; you’ve got your back to play and you’re making it easy for defenders”.‘I told him to come short, run off the ball. I said, “Go and watch Marc Overmars,” and he didn’t know who Marc Overmars was. I was like, “You’re playing out wide for Arsenal, how can you not know Overmars?”‘ Rooney claims Van Gaal is the best tactician he’s played for in his career (Picture: Getty)Rooney says Louis van Gaal is ‘by far the best’ tactician he has ever played under but Sir Alex Ferguson was ‘streets ahead of everyone’ as an overall manager. Asked which manager he’s worked with is the best tactician, Rooney replied: ‘Van Gaal was by far the best.‘Van Gaal was by far the best.’ the ex-United and England captain said.‘Fergie was streets ahead of everyone. He was incredible. ‘It wasn’t complicated. The big thing was he had trust in people. He trusted his coaches to put sessions on, he trusted his players.‘People always ask how were his team talks: a lot of his team talks were just, “You 11 are better than them. Go win the game.” Wayne Rooney reveals Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain had never heard of Arsenal hero Marc Overmars Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Perrie Edwards are doing self-isolation the right way ð pic.twitter.com/v5jCbmk3pq— Metro Sport (@Metro_Sport) March 15, 2020 ‘Then in the big games his team talks were very good. Before we won the Champions League [final in Moscow against Chelsea, 2008] we had 30, 40 minutes on the poverty in Russia. ‘He talked about how you have 90 to 120 minutes to play a game and after you’ll go back to your big houses, go back to your nice cars — but these people over here are working to survive, to live, provide. ‘For away games he always did the team talk in the hotel before you left and you had time on the coach to think about it. You’re driving in, looking through the window, you got to the stadium and saw the people, the guards, the security with those big Russian hats. It gives you a different way of thinking.’More: Arsenal FCArsenal flop Denis Suarez delivers verdict on Thomas Partey and Lucas Torreira movesThomas Partey debut? Ian Wright picks his Arsenal starting XI vs Manchester CityArsene Wenger explains why Mikel Arteta is ‘lucky’ to be managing ArsenalFollow Metro Sport across our social channels, on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. For more stories like this, check our sport page.MORE: Manchester United told how much they must pay for Odion Ighalo transferMORE: Arsenal urged to complete £45m transfer deal for Atletico Madrid midfielder Thomas Partey Advertisement
Michael Ray Pennington of Port Orange, FL and formerly of Brookville was born in Batesville, Indiana on February 10, 1957, a son to Ralph Pennington Sr. and Ruby Bishop Pennington. Michael spent his career painting and providing general maintenance. On Friday, April 19, 2019 at the age of 62, he passed away at Halifax Health Hospice of Port Orange, FL.Those surviving who will cherish Michael’s memory include his mother, Ruby Bolin and Step-father, Donald Bolin both of Mims, FL, Brother Ralph Pennington Jr. of Port Orange, FL, Daughter, Juanita Pennington of Laurel, and numerous aunts, uncles, and other relatives.Friends may visit with family on Wednesday, April 24, 2019 from 12 noon until time of service at 2 p.m. at Cook Rosenberger Funeral Home, 929 Main Street, Brookville. Pastor Tom Marshal of the Family Worship Center in Blooming Grove, IN will officiate the service. Burial will follow immediately after service in Maple Grove Cemetery.Memorial Contributions can be directed to the donor’s choice. To sign the online guestbook or to leave personal memories please visit www.cookrosenberger.com. The staff of Cook Rosenberger Funeral Home is honored to care for the family of Michael Pennington.