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I want to talk about a friend of mine today. I mentioned her last week. She is the first person I have attempted to interview. I chose her to be my first because I thought I would be more comfortable working with someone I’ve known for so long, and because she has a compelling story that I thought needed to be told. Not just because of the things that have happened to her, and her struggles, but because of the things she has done with those experiences.
Natalynn recalls being made fun of as early as the age of 5. It seems pretty sad to me as she described it because she says “I didn’t know there was anything wrong with the way I looked”, as though being picked on solidified in her mind that there was something wrong with the way she looked, and she just didn’t know it yet. Almost like the abuse that she suffered so long ago changed the way she saw herself. She stated that fact so nonchalantly, as if it had just been pointed out that there was something stuck in her teeth instead of children planting the first seed of doubt in her self-confidence.
These attacks continued straight through to her senior year, which when provoked, she finally had had enough and made that fact well known. Natalynn does not condone violence, and will speak out against her own actions, but in this case I’m not sure you can blame her for defending herself. Hear the whole story in the Interview. Later the intimidation, and brow-beating got bad enough that as an honor-roll student she was forced to drop out only two months into her senior year, destroying her chances of a college degree.
With little other choice, she went through a series of bad minimum wage jobs, which made her miserable, before finally landing the career that allowed her to buy a house and gave her pride in her work. However it wasn’t long before that pride turned to dismay and depression . A general lack of education trapped her in the company vehicle, fighting not only against her transcripts, but her gender as well. She was constantly passed over for promotions and raises even though she held seniority. She delivered oxygen to patients that made her school years feel like a day at the beach. During her time at this company she was perpetually berated and belittled by patients, coworkers, and supervisors alike, till eventually she was chased out, and the relationship was terminated.
I realize this all sounds horribly tragic, and I’d understand if you were bracing yourself for the traumatically sad ending, but I assure you that’s not where we are headed. We are in fact headed to the small city of Danville, Virginia.
Danville is in south-central Virginia on the North Carolina border. It has a population of about 43,000 (source). To put that in perspective Richmond, the capital of Virginia has a population of about 230,000 (source) and Washington D.C. has a population of about 600,000 (source). Of the 43,000 in Danville, 28.2% are below poverty line (source), and 15.8% are school aged children (source), and this cross section is often where you will find Natalynn.
She has converted her life of abuse and injustice into a career of fulfillment and helping people. One of her many jobs is at the YMCA, where she is currently spearheading a charity fashion show benefitting the YMCA Scholarship Fund. That helps pay for underprivileged children to spend time at the YMCA during the summer months, and in after school hours. The goal of this program is to help keep kids off of the streets while their family is at work, giving them hobbies and skills they can use later in life.
If you watch the video you will hear Natalynn refer to herself as Natalina Corvino a few times. This is her pro-wrestling persona. It is this persona that granted her a foothold in the public school system of Danville. Natalina runs an anti-bully campaign, and gives speeches to students in the school district. She has bracelets made for the students she speaks to, to give them a reminder of her visit and let them know someone is thinking of them, even when they feel alone. And she does all of this on her own dime. Everything is paid for by Natalynn and her supportive husband. She says she would like to turn it into a 501(c)(3) public charity but does not yet have the funds or knowledge to do so.
If you are local and would like to volunteer your time to Natalynn’s cause, or if you want to donate money, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will put you in contact with her, or look for her on Facebook under the name Natalina Corvino.
This is an abbreviated summary of a video interview, which in itself is a brief recap of the horrors experienced by one person, and how those experiences lead her to fight for everyone going through what she went through. One person can make a difference. If you don’t believe so, talk to Natalynn’s Kids. Listen to the changes she made for them. I strongly urge you to watch this Interview, most of the information in this article came from the first 5-6 minutes. There is still 25 minutes of conversation that deserves to be heard. Do yourself a favor, and watch it.