I was living in New York with my mother and her husband, and was still a virgin at the age of 19, not because of Christian values, or wanting to save myself for marriage, but because, I just was not ready for that step in life. Finally after a big disagreement at home with my mother and her husband I walked out of the house and into the arms of a friend. Finding myself with an unwanted pregnancy I was petrified. Being a very immature 19 year old, I now compounded this problem with a bigger problem; I decided to marry the father of my child!
We had an elaborate ceremony with friends and family all wishing us well. As I walked down the aisle I looked at the groom waiting for me at the altar and every fiber of my being screamed for me to run in the opposite direction, but fear of the unknown of tomorrow, kept me moving forward toward him. As we stood at the altar, the wedding party of 26 participants was playing around and laughing, none of us took the day seriously and as vows were being said, I repeated them carelessly without weighing the consequences of my words.
That night, after the elaborate show of a wedding, my immature husband had rented a studio apartment, above a store, that I had never seen. When he opened the door on our wedding night, the roaches came out to greet us and to escort us upstairs to our “Love Nest.” What a rude awakening this was for me!
Andre Dodd was born April 27th 1973 and my mistake turned into pure joy. I finally found love, I was in love and I now knew how it felt to be loved. Daily, this child grew, capturing my heart more and more. But even though I was a mom I was still immature. A few months later I found myself pregnant again! “OH MY, WHAT A MESS!” We could barely afford our little family of three, now there was to be another mouth to feed, another child to take care of. Andre was an extension of myself, easy to take care of but, he was a handful, how was I going to take care of a second child? Will I ever accomplish my dream to go to college; was I going to be stuck forever in this pathetic situation??? I was screaming inside, seemingly trapped with no way out.
Jon-Carlos Dodd came into the world on June 30th 1974, and I was totally overwhelmed! My husband barely made enough money to provide for us and he was unambitious and unmotivated to even try to improve our lot in life. I begged him to look into better employment; he made a decision to join the Navy which seemed to be a great move at the time. However, it made my life even more difficult because he had to leave to go through boot camp and training, leaving me at home with two babies… by myself! Life was difficult. I was not organized and the babies kept me running; they had their own schedule, and I fell into it. I had never baby sat a child before; so this was definitely a new experience for me.
I stayed in the marriage for 12 years, praying that my husband would grow up to be a better father and provider. We suffered through the electricity being turned off, repossessions of our cars, foreclosure of our home, and little food in the house. I stopped fighting with him to get off the couch. I had finally grown up, and with an attitude of “I can do badly all by myself”, I forced his hand to leave and he did, letting me know that I would never do better than him! He stormed out of our home, knowing that I was unemployed and that I only had $25.00 to my name. At the age of 32 I was forced to face the world and provide for two children, I became a statistic, a single mom.
My sons were priceless and I was determined to make their lives better, by erasing the headaches and heartaches caused by a negligent father. The truth is, I was a single mother all of their lives, anyway, only now, it was legally so. There was not a body sleeping on the couch in the middle of the day that I felt the need to argue with or coax. Life was truly harder now and I wondered if I would have to struggle like this for the rest of my life. Eventually though, I found employment at an HMO and was blessed to make an excellent salary, taking home upwards of $6000.00 per month.
Several years later I became an entrepreneur, I opened a Modeling school and an agency by the name of Hot Gossip. At the age of 13, while growing up in England, I was selected in school to be trained as a model by Simplicity Pattern. That training stayed with me and I modeled on and off when the boys were younger but wanted so much to be a stay-at-home mom with them as they grew.
Hot Gossip was responsible for the lives of hundreds of young men and women in South Florida and soon we became a household name. We boasted the prettiest people in the industry, talent, high fashion, and our own makeup line! Through my modeling school and agency, I was making upwards of $3500.00 per hour. My ex-husband’s prediction was proven wrong, I was a success, and I felt no need for God!
Prov. 31:25 says Strength and dignity are her clothing, and biblically that is where my life stopped. I was definitely a woman with a passion for clothing. My clothing was my signature, my clothing gave me dignity. I was aware of God but I was sure that God had no time for me. My life was fast and God seemed so far away.
Monday August 24, 1992 - The terrified residents of south Dade County sat in darkness, as Hurricane Andrew hit our world with everything it had. Hurricane Andrew was a small cyclone in size, but concentrated ferocious power across a narrow area. Sustained winds of 165-mph, with gusts that may have reached 200-mph, leveled a vast area of urban South Florida. Hurricane Andrew was the most intense tropical cyclone to strike Florida since the Great 1935 Florida Keys Hurricane, producing property destruction unlike any previous North American natural disaster. Andrew stood, at that time, as one of the worst disasters in American history.
August 24, 1992, was the pivotal point in the lives of thousands of south Dade residents. Many, who now remember only two periods in their lives, remember before Andrew and after Andrew! Roofs and walls were torn off homes, apartment complexes, commercial buildings, warehouses, schools—some buildings overturned several times or just blew away! Cars and trucks were lifted into the air. The skies became a deadly barrage of things that became airborne missiles—street signs, light-poles, traffic lights, decks, trees, storage tanks, awnings, even whole roofs still in a single piece—flying through the air. As homes and residential structures came apart, friends, families, and co-works, prayed, cried, and fought together for their lives.
It is with this ferocity that Hurricane Andrew, blew into my life. It took everything; my home, 2 of my 3 cars, my earthly possessions, my dreams, and almost my life. Needless to say, Andrew left me homeless and having to sleep, at one point, in Quail Roost Shopping Plaza, with a concrete parking marker as my pillow. As I lay there early one morning I found myself praying to a God that had always been there but that I had no relationship with. I saw nothing good coming out of the mess I was in. All I had left was my life and the lives of my two sons. Our quality of life was gone. We had No money, no home, no help and a dismal future.
In the midst of my storm there was a still small voice that kept telling me all would be well!!! “How could all be well,” I screamed inside my head, “when I had NOTHING? How??? Where are you Lord? I am dying. My children are dying. My life was over!!!” But the Lord kept saying, in the stillness and quietness, that all would be well.
God’s presence is as intriguing as His absence; His voice is as eloquent as His silence. Who of us has not longed for a word from God, searched for a glimpse of His power, or yearned for the reassurance of His presence, only to feel that He seems absent for the moment? Yes, He may seem distant; preoccupied, maybe even unconcerned……Yet later, we realize how very present He was all along.
Through the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew I actually felt God’s presence EVERYDAY. The 10 days of no food; the 10 days of no water; the 10 days of not showering and not caring how I looked or how I smelled. But God!!! I literally felt His Hands holding mine. Monies were being sent to my mother from friends, and concerned people who heard about what I was going through……. And God. Each day became a gift. I looked forward to feeling His presence. I knew He was there even in the tiny shack we were now living in. I knew He was there and even though I was lonely and aching for physical human contact—because my friends were in the same position I was in; scattered by the winds…… I was afraid, lonely and in pain, extremely lost with no vision of what tomorrow had in store for me. But I knew He was there.
In December, 1992, I was able to get a Hurricane Loan and I purchased a beautiful home. In January, 1993, I made a decision to give my heart, my life, my everything to the Lord. However, I felt inadequate!!! What was I giving Him? Me? This pitiful loser of a person? Me? What about me could be so priceless that I felt it was worth giving to Him, the One that had given His life for me??? I knew that Claudette would NEVER give up partying. I knew Claudette could NEVER change.
Well, it has been fifteen years! Birthed from this decision to serve, God pioneered the magnificent ministry of Speaking Hands through me.
Ladies, take the word coincidence out of your vocabulary; there are no coincidences or luck with God. Hurricane Andrew was scheduled to hit Broward and West Palm Beach. It is not by “coincidence” that it turned and hit south Dade as well, and it was not by “luck” my children and I made it through. In fact, the word “luck” does not belong in the vocabulary of a woman of God!
I do believe I need to apologize to the people of south Dade. As He did with Jonah, I truly believe that God sent Hurricane Andrew for me, to change me, to awaken me. He was tired of speaking to me and being continually ignored by me. He knew I would be devastated. He knew I would have “NO ONE” but Him to reach out to. I do believe that God loves us so much that He will even use radical means to get our attention.
Women of God, our walk of faith is designed to be a walk of adventure, filled with periodic and delightful surprises. Esther’s walk with God was an exciting adventure. This biblical character stepped into the king’s presence because she had confidence in God. Esther planned a banquet because she trusted God to do the unexpected. Are you still open to the unexpected? Are you really waiting on God to do His will?
I am a true example that GOD USES BROKEN LIVES, for He used me—Claudette—to pioneer a deaf ministry while impacting the lives of children and adults the world over. Speaking Hands teaches them to fall in love with Praising God. Speaking Hands has shared the stage with a plethora of great artists and noteworthy members of our society, and has received many Awards including the Outstanding Academic Achievement Award from Bob Butterworth, State Attorney General for the State of Florida, Keys to the City of Lauderhill, Florida, the WMBM Gospel Radio Spirit Awards of Excellence, and the “Dancing Under the Anointing Award”.
I can finally say today at the grand age of 56, that I, Dr. Claudette Barrett-Flintroy, have finally grown up!! I am the mother of two baptized, successful sons and a grandmother of 2 beautiful girls. Today because of my bold, shaky steps of faith, I have enjoyed a successful life. Yes it had its bumps, but I am still standing, and looking forward to the treasures that life has waiting for me with excitement. I am now happily re-married to Robert Flintroy who is very much involved in my life and ministry.
My plans for the future? I am open and excited about the next five years. Having attained every goal I have set for myself, the last desire I feel is to be on the road creating conferences for children and women. There is a need to slow down a little, but there is a passion that burns inside to continue making a difference in the lives of others… I am now ready and excited about my tomorrows. Feel free to contact us for performances or workshops at:
127 N State Rd.
Plantation, FL 33317
What makes me weak? My fears.
What makes me whole? My God.
What keeps me standing? My faith.
What makes me compassionate? My selflessness.
What makes me honest? My integrity.
What sustains my mind? My quest for knowledge.
What teaches me all lessons? My mistakes.
What lift's my head high? My pride, not arrogance.
What if I can't go on? Not an option.
What makes me victorious? My courage to climb.
What makes me competent? My confidence.
What makes me sensual? My insatiable essence.
What makes me beautiful? My everything.
What makes me a woman? My heart.
Who says I need love? I do.
What empowers me? My God that’s in Me.
Who am I? I AM A STRONG CHRISTIAN WOMAN!
WILL YOU BE OUR NEXT
CELEBRITY SINGLE MOM OF THE MONTH?
OUR VERY FIRST CELEBRITY SINGLE MOM FOR MARCH, 2009!
I was a 19 year old single-never-married mother with a little girl, attending Beauty School when I started on this new journey of being a single mother. I received my California State Cosmetology License in 1984 when my daughter was only 8 months old. While trying to establish a clientele I accepted assistance from the welfare and government housing programs. After only two years, I was able to wean myself off the government welfare system. My desire for home-ownership in a pretty neighborhood with a reputable school district is one of the things that kept me determined.
The main challenge I faced was dealing with loneliness. I worked to the point of exhaustion (12 hour days) but having my daughter with me, seeing her and watching her grow, gave me strength. She was there with me throughout the day while I worked learning and growing both intellectually and socially. One of my main goals as a mother was to spend my daughter's formative years with her until she was old enough to attend school, instead of sending her to daycare centers and baby sitters. Also, because I had established a relationship with the Lord, when I was only 8 years old, I believe that it was my relationship with Him that really helped me through my loneliness, and the struggles and challenges I faced as a single mother. While walking and talking with God, I believed that my steps were also ordered by Him.
By the time I was 25 years old I had gone into partnership with another stylist, and one year later I ventured out as sole proprietress of Anita's Hair Extensions Plus, in Redlands, CA, which today, is a private hair studio, and was incorporated in 2007. We serve all hair types, and welcome cancer patients/survivors and anyone suffering from Alopecia Areata (hair loss). We use Premium Indian Hair imports for custom wig/toupee making.
Over the next 7 years I experienced great success since I had the monopoly in hair extensions from the 1990's. However, I was still dependent on the system for my daughter's medical benefits, so I returned to school in pursuit of my Teaching Credential. At this time, my goal was to secure a teaching job that included medical benefits. I obtained this goal in 1997.
The people who impacted my life the most during my struggle to establish myself as a responsible parent was first my Grandmother, Mary Lucy, who moved me in with her as I finished Beauty School and helped me with my daughter without judging me. When she moved out she gave me her fully furnished apartment! She put my name on the lease and took her name off—all while on housing assistance. The second person to impact my life in a positive way was my daughter's Grandmother, Lucille. She used to remind me not to forget about myself while taking care of my child. She would say, "Don’t be ashamed of any decision you have ever made." She took my daughter to church and family and social events while I ran my salon.
The greatest lesson that I've learned is that by submerging oneself in all things positive, with Creator-God in the picture, you will reap what you have sewn in due season.
In 2003 I bought my own home, and in 2004, I married a wonderful, “God-loving” man. In 2006, I put my daughter through college. Today my daughter, LaToya, has a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science and is happily married!
At this point in my life, yes, I am happily married and raising our son, Mario who is an Honor Roll Student with his sights set on Engineering or Medicine. I launched a home based/online business named www.HairItIsNow.com while substitute teaching. From this website potential customers can purchase hair, wigs and professional products. My work has been published in "Hair Style Trendz" magazine Vol. 2.1 representing "Hollywood Hair," as well as posters for "Indiremi Premium Virgin Hair," and can also be viewed at: www.MySpace.com/Anitashairextensionsplus. Feel free to ask me questions concerning our products or serves via email or call: (909) 910-8973.
I am very content to run home-based and online companies until our son leaves for college; at which time I will open a Beauty Supply and Spa. If you are in the area, come by for great services and products, and members and partners expect a “WSP Discount!” Also contact us or visit us and shop online.
A word about my glamour shot: In 1990, a client of mine was so appreciative of my services that she treated me to a gift certificate for a makeover, sitting and glamour shot at Fantasy One Photo Studio in the Carousel Mall of San Bernardino, California. I bought some of the photos, but the studio created a 36" x 36" to mount in their store window.
So many people would go into their studio and say, "I know that lady, she does my hair!" They would then decide to have a glamour shot too! That company kept the glamour shot of me in their window for 15 years, until they changed their decor! In 2005, because they kept up with me where ever I had business, they called and offered me that huge glamour shot portrait--at least a $300 value--as a gift. They said it brought so much business into their studio, and that they appreciated me so much for that. This was an unforeseen gift for good I didn't even realize I was doing!
Through it all the things that kept me determined were my love for Christ, family, wellness, and independence. I tell my clients and students to find their hobby and make a business out of it. When you do what you enjoy, people enjoy watching you do it!! You guessed it; my story is to be continued…
WILL YOU BE OUR NEXT
CELEBRITY SINGLE MOM OF THE MONTH?
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