Announcing the Inaugural Clay Davison Legacy Scholarship Award
In the photo, starting from the left: Joe Labatore (Clay’s step-dad), Felicia Labatore (Clay’s mom), scholarship recipient Samantha Pierce, Justin and Jacob Labatore (Clay’s brothers)
The Board of Directors of the Kenosha Community Foundation congratulates Samantha Pierce, 2021 Tremper High School graduate, as the inaugural recipient of the Clay Davison Legacy Scholarship.
The Clay Davison Legacy is a scholarship fund established in 2019 with the Kenosha Community Foundation by the friends and family of Felicia Labatore, for the benefit of Kenosha-area students pursuing a post-secondary education degree in a mental health-related field of study.
Ms. Pierce wrote a compelling narrative in her scholarship application essay. Early in her lifetime, there were struggles brought on by the dynamics of a changing family structure and an uncle’s death by suicide. Dealing with these issues at such a young age took a toll on Samantha as she herself struggled with mental health issues as she entered high school. Two factors served Samantha in dealing with her anguish: music and service to her community. Music served her well as she gained top performance honors. Yet, as that interest waned a bit, she turned to serve her community as a board member of Kenosha Human Development Services and a board member of Youth as Resources.
As Samantha states in her essay:
”….My volunteer experiences, as well as my own mental health struggles, have inspired me to make a future of my love of service. The main reason why I want to study social work is because I want to make an impact in schools. In particular, I want to help students who do not receive adequate mental health services…. Overall, I only consider my misfortune a triumph. Everything I have been through only guides me in the direction of loving and serving whomever I can.”
Clay Davison’s mother, Felicia Labatore, shared the following thoughts regarding this inaugural year scholarship award:
.“Our family could not be more excited to be able to award Samantha with the Clay Davison Legacy Scholarship. Awarding the first winner feels extra special to us. We are so thankful for every person that gave a dollar. Our goal and hope of Clay’s scholarship are to help create more opportunities in the Kenosha area for people to be able to access mental health care. June 21st will be seven years since Clay took his life. I always say that I will NEVER let that one decision define Clay’s life because he made thousands of great decisions. He made everyone laugh and was always there for his family and friends. This scholarship is another way that Clay’s life will continue to help others”.
About the Scholarship Program
The Clay Davison Legacy Scholarship Fund was established in August 2019 and awards (plans to award) scholarships to Kenosha County residents entering college or already in college who are preparing for a career that addresses mental health challenges – this could include the fields of social services, psychology, and mental health care.
A goal of the fund is to increase the number of providers in these fields who are able to address mental health issues encountered in everyday work.
The scholarship is open to Kenosha County residents who are:
Students must plan to study or continue their studies in a mental health-related field.
Scholarship applicants will need to explain:
- How have you or your family been affected by mental health issues or crises?
- Which specific field do you plan to study and why? (How is it mental health-related?)
NOTE: Students of any Grade Point Average (GPA) can apply for this scholarship.
For 2021, the Foundation awarded one $1,250 Clay Davison Legacy Scholarship. The amount for 2022 has yet to be determined.
How to Apply
The Foundation will begin accepting applications for the Clay Davison Legacy Scholarship in December, with a deadline for applications in mid-March.
The Foundation expects to announce scholarship awards in May/June.
About Clay Davison
Listen to the “Always be a Light’ episode on the Avoiding the Addiction Affliction Podcast – it features Felicia Labatore (Clay’s mom) speaking about Clay.
Read this Essay about Clay’s Life
written by Felicia Labatore
Clay was a super talented teenager and grew up here in Kenosha. He played basketball at the Rec Plex and was the pitcher for his Little League team. He helped his 9/10- year old team win the championship. That was a fun night, and I will never forget his excitement and how proud I was of him. He also was the quarterback for his teams through the CYC league and played for Mahone and Indian Trail schools. As he became a teenager, he loved weight-lifting, boxing and playing ghost in the graveyard with his brothers and neighborhood friends.
Besides sports, he was an absolute comedian. He always had his friends and family laughing hysterically. Our dinner time around the table was the “Clay Show.”
In school, Clay was smart and a leader. He got along with every group: white kids, black kids, Hispanic kids, popular kids and everyone in between. If you needed a friend, he was there. Don’t we need more Clay’s in our world today? One of the things I was most proud of him for was that he was the one all his friends went to for advice. He listened to them and helped so many of them providing good, solid advice, yet he was only a teen himself.
Clay was a fierce protector of his family, friends, and teammates. His dream was to be a Marine. I asked him what plan B was, and he said,
“There is no Plan B, I WILL BE A MARINE”!
That’s how determined he was.
Clay’s depression started when he was around 14 years old. He never wanted to go talk to a counselor and never wanted the label of depression. He had the “good” labels: athlete, funny, smart, strong, friend, the “it” kid. Who wants a “bad” or negative label? No one does.
Because of his untreated depression, Clay made some decisions that led him on a path that kept getting darker and darker despite his family trying so many options to help. On June 21 st 2014, Clay took his own life. Clay made thousands of great decisions throughout his life, and I will never let this “one” decision define who he was. My promise to you is that I will do everything in my power to bring awareness to mental health. I want every person, you, me, your son or daughter to be healthy, happy and truly live their life without fear of a label.
One of our goals with the Clay Davison Legacy Foundation is to erase the stigma and labels. I would love nothing more than to know that because of sharing Clay’s story and giving education on this topic that maybe someone you know will be okay with not being okay. And if they need help, they will reach out. The Clay Davison Legacy Scholarship Fund will be available to help Kenosha County students pursuing college in the fields of social services, psychology and mental health care. We need to reduce the lack of providers that help with mental health services.
If you would like to help make this happen, click on donate. Make your donation to the Clay Davison Legacy Scholarship.
You can also reach out to us at email@example.com.
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