Losh'She'Aundra Giddens, who lived in public housing for about eight years, is now receiving boost to pursue a career that will support her family.
Pirates don’t just plunder. They also provide.
At least these pirate re-enactors do: The Krewe of the 13, a 501c3 with about 55 members in Flagler, St. Johns and Duval counties, raises funds throughout the year and then assists people with clear solutions to their “dire circumstances,” according to Roger Allen.
“We want to fix the situation,” said Allen, a Palm Coast resident and the captain of the Krewe. “We want to use the Krewe’s money, which is hard earned, to good effect, and stand back and say, ‘There, we helped that family. They’re on the right path.’ We want the Krewe to be energized to do more fundraising, and for that, they’ve got to see the positive results of what they’re doing.”
A group of several pirates saw those positive results in the face of Losh’She’Aundra Giddens on Oct. 9, at the Flagler County Housing Authority office on Bacher Street, Bunnell.
Giddens was the recipient of a scholarship that will help her attend the nursing program at Daytona State College and provide for her sons, infant Landan and 6-year-old Legend.
“It means everything that somebody is paying for a whole program for me, giving me help,” Giddens said. “It’s really a blessing.”
Giddens, who lived in the public housing in Bunnell from 2012 to 2020, was inspired to pursue a career in nursing after several family members died in recent years: her mother in 2007, guardian in 2009, brother in 2011, sister in 2019, grandmother and grandfather in 2020.
“I want to give back,” Giddens said. “As long as you got that motivation, you can do it.”
Without family to support her, Giddens pointed out two people who had helped to guide her in recent years. One is Jacqueline Garcia, the grant coordinator for Resident Opportunities and Self-Sufficiency at the housing authority, known as Carver Village.
“This is life changing for her,” Garcia said.
Another guide for Giddens has been Yolonda Williams, a parent educator for Healthy Families Volusia-Flagler. She helps Giddens discuss life goals and direct her to resources to support her children and keep the family safe.
“She’s really a good mom,” Williams said. “Once she had another child, it gave her more of a push to want to make a change and be a better role model for her children. She’s very encouraged. She’s very smart, and I think she doesn’t want to repeat patterns she’s seen before. Not wanting to be a stereotype is pushing her to succeed.”
Williams, who had her own first child as a 15-year-old, is a former resident of the public housing at Carver Village as well. In fact, her family has lived there for generations: Her great-great-grandmother lived in the house that has since been converted into the Our House building, next to the housing authority office.
Housing Authority Executive Director Chris Beyrer also sees value in the example Giddens is setting for those who remain in public housing.
“It could be life changing if other people see that this — where she lived before — is a stepping stone to get their education, to move on. What a lovely opportunity. It’s really heartwarming.”
The donation was personal for one pirate, Nancy Hahn. Her husband, Jim, died Nov. 15, 2019, and the scholarship is named for him.
“I think it’s a great honor,” said Nancy Hahn, of Palm Coast. “He loved the Krewe, loved the fundraising, the philanthropy.”
Hahn added with a laugh that she was surprised he had been willing to go along with the pirate re-enactments.
“I talked him into this, but then he embraced it,” she said.
Hahn’s story is not uncommon, according to Allen, the captain of the Krewe. Most of the time, one spouse coaxes the other into participating. Allen got involved several years ago when he bought a pirate hat for a garden party several years ago.
“Thousands of dollars later, I was addicted,” he said.
Now, Allen’s wife, Kathy “Kutthroat” Allen, sews the costumes for many of the Krewe, as does another Palm Coast pirate, Debbie VanGemert.
The best part of being a pirate, according to Roger Allen, is interacting with children. They gravitate to the Hollywood glamor of pirates, and they love the swords and costumes.
“When you walk down St. George Street (in St. Augustine), it is truly amazing,” Allen said.
That charm was in effect with Legend, Giddens’ older son, when he was given a pirate costume, complete with a plastic saber. “Can I keep this?” he asked.
He was then given a certificate declaring him an official friend of the Krewe. He looked at it carefully with one eye — the other eye was covered in his new skull-and-crossbones patch — and a big smile.