Wandering the streets of Baltimore, going from foster home to foster home, always on the run, one native Baltimorean somehow survived street life, all because he was determent to be a winner.
With several run-ins with the law, Donald Dowridge, 51 discovered how he would turn his life around, breaking through barriers that would halt others in their tracks.
“As a child my life was split between happiness and torture,” Dowridge told the AFRO. “My dad was incarcerated and my mom couldn’t raise three children on her own.”
Dowridge said his journey towards success has been less than picture perfect. He told the AFRO he was sexually abused and tortured for most of his childhood, while in foster care.
“At a young age, I was using drugs and drinking excessively,” he said. “I was incarcerated at 13-years-old in a Baltimore City jail.”
In his new book, The Power of Being a Winner, Dowridge said he turned to writing because “it turned out to be a relief factor as far as releasing information that can and will help those who are seeking to improve their life.”
At age 17, Dowridge moved to Tampa, Fla. with only the clothes on his back, trying to put his troubled youth in Baltimore behind him. While there he stayed with his father, and attended Hillsborough High School. But he spent “only a short time” there, he said, because he threatened the life of the school’s dean.
Dowridge then turned to the streets, selling drugs to keep money in his pockets. It wasn’t until the age of 21, when he decided to turn his life around, obtained his high school diploma and then enlisted in the U.S. Army, a career he said he “only left due to a frostbite injury” he suffered while stationed in Germany.
It was time to return to Florida. “Tampa was my solid ground,” he said.
After his discharge from the Army, he said he spent 11 years at the U.S. Post Office in Tampa, where he was the first African American to manage an optical character reader and barcode character sorter section at the mail handling facility in Tampa.
After developing a drug habit at age 14, when he says he “started smoking marijuana due to his father’s persuasion.” He continued to sell--and use--drugs as he grew into adulthood.
After hitting rock bottom financially and emotionally at age 31, he said he felt his life was “going nowhere fast” and wanted “to be somebody” before dying.
He said he stopped smoking drugs and was determined to win and be somebody.
“I realized that I was going nowhere and started making the transformation to turn my life around,” he said.
Dowridge joined Bible Base Fellowship Church in Tampa in 1990, where he said he made the “connection to God to help him become something greater than myself.”
At Bible Base, he found himself and became a motivational speaker in less than two years. His success in delivering upbeat lectures inspired him to write motivational literature.
“The point of the book is that people will use it as a means to assist them, to do away with their fears and to take on their desires to help them accomplish what they want,” said Dowridge.
Dowridge said joining the church set boundaries for how he should live his life. He said he was doing what God expected out of him.
He said, while overseas in the military, he took a course in sociology because he wanted to learn more about himself. He wanted know what made him tick, I started learning about what makes him act the way he does to try to break the cycles he saw in his family.
“I am blessed to have learned along the way an abundance about myself. How to stand strong in the storms that surely have been a part of my life.”
“To understand the feelings of another and be able to extend a helping hand, to be a provider and be sincere with my heart,” Dowridge said about turning his life around.
“To be thankful to God for all he has allowed me to experience since transforming my life.”
Dowridge said, “The Power of Being a Winner's uplifting force in my journey and will be life changing.”