Aminah Williams – Making Life Sweet

by Terry Watson | March 13th, 2013
Aminah Williams and Jana M. Gamble

Aminah Williams and Jana M. Gamble (Photo by Aminah Williams)

Aminah Williams is someone who would literally give the shirt off her own back to help someone else. When her father was in desperate need of a kidney, she willingly gave him one of hers to save his life. Her life is a testament of who she is and what she believes living is all about. The O’Fallon, Mo. native isn’t the type to sit around and wait for life to happen. Instead her assertive and infectious nature has wrestled all challenges she faced with grace and optimism.

Williams is more than just a conqueror — she is a mother of five, friend, and believer. Along with her lifelong friend, Jana M. Gamble who she describes as her partner in crime, they have formed, Living Sweet, a nonprofit organization whose goal is to promote awareness and knowledge in their community by encouraging people to give back, give life and give love. Their mission began nearly two years ago when the duo decided to put their minds together and be the salt and light of the world. They both had wonderful gifts and wanted to impact the world by doing good things.

Gamble is a keynote speaker amongst other things. The author, poet, and single mom of two is most recognizable on stage with a microphone in hand or seated with a pen and pad. Her gift is her ability to connect with children through her books, young women (10-18) through mentoring, and speaking to women of all ages on educational levels and economic statuses. Even behind the camera she effectively communicates her aura of inspiration to the world.

One of Williams many gifts is cooking. As a personal chef she incorporated her talent with passion to give and along with Gamble began 10 Weeks of Giving. Every week they would bless random businesses and individuals with food and information about giving. It was during this time that Williams learned that her father would surely die if he didn’t receive a kidney transplant. This ordeal would eventually delay their effort to feed others during their giving program.

During that time, Williams was married for nearly seven years to her husband who she shared a relationship with for 11 years. “I was a good wife, I prayed a lot and made sure to take care of him,” she says. The marriage was rough, and she really didn’t understand why; she loved him and thought he loved her too. They had their share of ups and downs, but there were a lot of downs. “I guess the best times in our lives were the births of our children,” she says. She became depressed and couldn’t understand why her husband neglected her. She soon internalized his behaviors toward her and believed that she was doing something wrong. She cried and prayed for many years and attempted to stick the marriage out.

As her marriage progressed, so did her feelings of neglect and emptiness. Eventually, Williams would learn of the reasons why her marriage had fallen apart, and her husband’s act of alienation. “My husband got sick and no one knew what was wrong with him. Doctors could not find an answer until he took an HIV test,” she says. When the results came back positive, Williams says she was hurt and felt deceived. Still, she loved her husband and kept praying and refused to give up on the man she chose to build a life with and shared four children.

After learning of her husband’s illness, he later shared with her that he did not want to be a partner in their marriage any longer and that he was homosexual. “My heart dropped but again I went to God praying for a miracle,” she confessed. Her husband ended up leaving the house and kids under the assertion that he wanted to start a new life. Meanwhile she says her life was her husband and children and she didn’t know how to live or even breathe with this sudden change.

Williams says she began to lean and rely on the only source that she knew could sustain her during her ordeal; and that was God. It was God that would continue to be on her side. She says God gets all the glory because He protected her and her children from contracting HIV. “We were evicted from our home, car was repossessed, but again God was always there.” As time passed, she was blessed to receive an old car from a friend and found a place to stay. One day, she received an unexpected check in the mail and she knew God was keeping her and was still in control.

All of the issues and problems continued to arise around the same time that her father was in need of a kidney. He knew of all her trials and the divorce and he didn’t want to ask her to give him a kidney. Without hesitation her best friend, Gamble stepped up to the plate and got tested to see if she was a match. “She is a remarkable friend that attempted to do a selfless act like giving her own kidney. I loved her for trying,” says Williams. Unfortunately test proved that Gamble wasn’t a match because she carried the sickle cell trait. So it was Williams turn and no one else in her family was a match except for her. It was a big decision for her, but one that she didn’t second guess.

On July 18, 2012, Williams and her father underwent transplant surgery. She extended her father’s life by giving a part of hers to him. Since that day, her organizations focus has also included organ donation. Gamble and Williams now work to promote awareness about organ donation, and becoming a living organ donor. They also help to raise awareness of certain individuals who are in need of a kidney like, LaNeisa Henderson. “We helped to put on fundraisers and benefits in her name to help get the word out about her need of a kidney,” she says. They also partner with donor organization, Donate Life to provide pamphlets and information on organ donation.

Williams says she is inspired by her children. “I look at them and I want them to know that I do the best I can and work really hard. I’m so blessed to have a beautiful family. They model their lives after my behavior and have hearts to give and help others. I want them to know that God can do anything,” says Williams. She is also inspired when others say that her and Gamble encourage them to give a little more, love a little better and help others. This is what their organization is all about.

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