The Value of Community

One of the gifts Alyssa left us was the gift of community.  Alyssa brought together people all over the world to care for her struggle and for her.  Without community, the Divers family would have suffered immeasurably worse.

Come be a part of the Alyssa House Community.  Your support, your help, your donations, your ideas are welcome and needed!  Together, we are more than the sum of our parts!  Together, we are family.

About Alyssa

Alyssa Grace Divers, a sparkly firework, burst on to the scene February 25, 2002 in Charlottesville, Virginia.  Brilliant and beautiful, Alyssa was a voracious reader who loved nature, dancing, singing, gymnastics, dolphins, horses and a good play on words.  A delightful child, clever beyond her years, she loved verbal parring and enjoyed pointing out errors in grammar (on signs in the hospital, for example,) or the oddities of language. Kind and gentle, with a heart of pure gold, she also loved animals and became a vegetarian as soon as she realized the “chicken” in her baby food was “chicken.”

An honorary Dogwood Festival Princess, Alyssa participated in two parades and was looking forward to singing for the April 2013 breakfast in her honor when she died at her home on Monday, December 31st, 2012 after a fierce, unrelenting two year battle with osteosarcoma.

Alyssa was in tap class with her Mommy (who was her teacher) when she indicated that her knee really hurt.  That pain turned out to be a fractured growth plate because of a mass growing in her distal femur. While Alyssa’s tumor was caught early and not terribly big, she suffered a fracture through the tumor spreading the disease throughout her body. Alyssa’s leg was rebuilt and she learned to dance on it again only to discover her final week of a 40 week chemo protocol that the tumor had regrown. The cancer that Alyssa had turned out to be therapy resistant – a term that means the chemo didn’t kill it.

At MD Anderson Cancer Center, Alyssa permitted the medical team to pioneer a new amputation surgery to try to salvage a residual limb as well as rid her body of the cancer. Tragically, the cancer was too aggressive. 38 hospitalizations and less than seven months from the amputation, cancer had invaded Alyssa’s lungs to the extent that her body could not survive any longer. With her Mommy, Daddy and Sissy sleeping close by, Alyssa was stolen from this world.

She is survived by her parents, Laura Lynn Litchfield Divers and Jeffrey Alan Divers, her little sister, Alexa “Lexie” Noelle Divers as well as all four grandparents and many beloved aunts, uncles, cousins and dear friends, her bunny, Snowball- and a local and global community that loved her deeply.

In spite of all of that, in her final months, Alyssa didn’t let cancer stop her from doing what she wanted. She enjoyed a trip to Miami to swim with dolphins, to Atlantis for a tropical vacation, and even to New York to experience the Rockettes, Broadway and the Nutcracker at the Lincoln Center. New to horseback riding in October, just two weeks before Alyssa died in December, with only one leg, Alyssa won a blue ribbon in her first horse show in the walk and jog class on her favorite pony, Leo. As an amputee, Alyssa continued weekly dance lessons, working on a duet with her Mommy which she hoped to perform in the Spring Performance of 2013. Together, Alyssa and Lexie put many miles on the two swings in their front yard. Best friends, sisters and playmates, Alyssa and Lexie shared a remarkable relationship of imagination, play, living room dancing, tea parties and fun. When settling in at night, Alyssa’s favorite activity was “read time” with her beloved Papi/Daddy.

What stands out most about Alyssa was deep abiding love for her family.  Her favorite thing was “to live” so she could spend more time with her Mommy, Papi and Sissy.  In her battle against cancer she willingly committed to either embracing or sacrificing whatever was necessary because, as Alyssa put it, “if there is a chance, I have to take it.” Her determination and conviction were unsurpassed.

Those blessed to know Alyssa expressed awe and wonder at her journey, her beauty and her brilliance.

Alyssa left us all wanting more.

How Can I Help?

0612120938If The Alyssa House has captured your heart the way Alyssa did ours, then we could use your help.  We are eager to partner with those who understand extravagant welcome and gracious hospitality for a family in crises.

Alyssa House can be found on Facebook and by emailing thealyssahouse@gmail.com

Currently, Sojourners United Church of Christ has a working group meeting to establish the Alyssa House Advisory Board. Everything will be needed – from Board members eager to raise awareness and resources for Alyssa House to those who might want to donate a meal, time or toilet paper!

The Alyssa House

The Alyssa House, named for ten year old Alyssa Grace Divers, will be a hospitality house providing affordable housing to families of children in medical crises who are not from the local Charlottesville area but who are in active medical treatment.  Plans are to open late spring 2016.2013-09-25-1Alyssa Grace Divers was a fierce firework who radiated love and wit – and her love for dolphins, dance and books – but not in that order. Diagnosed with osteosarcoma just two weeks before her 9th birthday, Alyssa bravely endured surgeries, a leg amputation and 38 hospitalizations trying to outlive the cancer that invaded her body and her life. Tragically, the disease stole Alyssa from her family and this world on New Year’s Eve, 2012.

During Alyssa’s two years of treatment, the Divers’ family (Jeff, Lynn, Alyssa and Lexie) had to seek medical care far away from their home community in an effort to save Alyssa’s life.  In so doing, they realized the importance of generous hospitality by strangers to a family in crises.

Alyssa’s beloved church, Sojourners United Church of Christ, in a gift to Alyssa’s memory offered to work towards creating Alyssa House: Offering Grace to Body and Spirit as a way for Alyssa’s light to shine and make others’ world a little brighter.

Alyssa House seeks to meet the needs of families in crises as generously as possible. In true Alyssa fashion, nothing is more important than family.

We welcome you to join our Alyssa House family.