By Diana Bowley of the Bangor Daily News: DEXTER - Her life has been sorely tested, but Derian Gatewood, 12, has persevered.
When she was 3, Derian suffered a serious head injury in an automobile accident that claimed the life of her mother. A stroke followed the injury, and the then toddler had to relearn how to walk, eat, talk and play.
With the loving help of her grandmother Carol Shoreborn, who gave up her teaching job to raise and home-school the resilient, dark-eyed girl in their Dexter home, Derian has molded her life into one of civic responsibility and giving.
Derian, a Girl Scout, has contributed time at a local thrift shop where she folded clothes, bagged toys and performed an assortment of other jobs. Her service to Womancare, a Dover-Foxcroft based organization where Shoreborn serves on the steering committee, has included painting faces as a fundraising event and participating in the organization's walkathon.
Her latest project, however, gives her great pride. Derian is making earrings out of beads to raise funds to equip the children's room in Womancare's future office complex.
"They're building a new building with a children's room, and I wanted to raise money for it," Derian said Friday.
She especially wants to make sure the room is filled with toys and interesting books for children.
"I'm reading and I like to go to the library and usually they have a children's room in there," Derian said, emphasizing the importance of children having their own little space.
Her jet-black hair pulled back in corn-row braids, Derian said she hopes to raise $500 from the sale of her jewelry. The goal, however, has been a moving target.
"She's kind of moved her goal from $50 to $100, so this is like a new goal for her," Shoreborn said Friday.
Seated at a small table in her home on No. 10 Road recently, Derian concentrated on threading tiny plastic beads onto a thin silver wire that would soon become an earring. Boxes of beads and coils of wire were spread before her.
"First I was making them as gifts," Derian explained. When the recipients of the jewelry showed others her designs, she was in business, she said. To date, she has distributed 20 pairs, each for a $10 donation.
On Friday, Derian held the beads close to her face, having misplaced her glasses, as she threaded a red bead followed by a white bead on a wire. She continued the pattern until there was just enough space left to add a small heart-shaped bead.
She said the heart is a symbol of her love, and that love is being bestowed on those customers who purchase her earrings. She makes about three pairs a day as well as the cards on which they are displayed. A sticker note attached to the cards reads: "Designs by Derian Made for you with love."
"It makes me feel good," she said of helping others.
When Derian isn't studying, playing with friends, engaged in therapy, honing her karate or making jewelry, she can be found cooking, performing on the mandolin with the Wanderers, a group of young Dexter-area musicians who formed as a result of an after-school grant Shoreborn wrote several years ago, or singing occasionally with a Bangor-based group called Women with Wings. She also enjoys playing the piano, keyboard and the African drums.
For more information on Derian's jewelry, call Womancare at 564-8165.
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