AUBURNDALE (FOX 13) - It’s been one week since Lt. Debra Clayton was shot and killed in the line of duty, but in Polk County, her memory and legacy will live on.
The Orlando police officer was known for her work with children, and her service wasn’t just limited to official duties. When Clayton wasn’t on the clock working with kids and teens in the Orlando area, she made the hour-long drive to the Winning Souls For the Kingdom Church in Auburndale, where she helped mentor the ministry’s youth.
“Debra was the type of person that anyone could talk to,” said Michon Chunn, who met with Clayton each week during a social gathering for women in the ministry.
Chunn says she and Clayton became fast friends. “She always had a smile on her face, even if she was dealing with a difficult situation."
The two bonded over their passion for inspiring and guiding the young members of their church and were in the early stages of planning a new youth center.
“Some of the recreation options that we do have around here are not really a positive environment for young people, so we just want to be able to bring them in so they can have a great time and be safe,” said Akisia Quinn, who heads up youth programing for the church.
Now as a tribute to the officer they knew as Sister Deborah, the ministry plans to dedicate the youth center to the woman who devoted her life to improving the lives of young people. The yet-to-be-constructed building will be named the Debra Clayton Youth Dream Center.
“We’re going to teach them the principles of what she was all about: Keeping God first, getting an education and staying out of trouble,” said Chunn.
The ministry is still in the fundraising process right now. The goal is to build a two-story youth center here with plenty of safe space for kids to be kids and for church leaders to continue Clayton’s work in mentoring or shaping the lives of young people. The center will include a basketball court, recreation rooms, classrooms, and eventually a pool for swimming lessons.
“With the help of the community I believe we can do it. Our church is putting a big part in, but with the help of others we can make sure this building gets up quickly. We can make sure that the legacy of this woman of God does not die and we can make sure that these children get the help they need,” added Chunn.
The church has set up a donation page for the Debra Clayton Dream Center here: https://www.gofundme.com/debra-clayton-dream-center