There are moments when it feels like we’re put in the perfect place at just the right time to make a big difference in the world around us.
For Flaviane Carvalho, the perfect place on New Year’s Day happened to be at work. She wasn’t even scheduled to wait tables at Mrs. Potato Restaurant in Orlando, Florida, that day; she was just filling in for a sick colleague.
As she was wrapping up her shift, a family of four was seated in her section. She immediately noticed that something was “off” about their behavior. As the mother of a teenager herself, Flaviane’s eyes were drawn to the 11-year-old boy who sat slumped at their table. His eyes were cast down, and his family would not let him have anything to eat or drink.
Flaviane asked if everything was all right with their food, and they told her the child would eat at home. Warning bells sounding in her head, Flaviane looked closer. Peeking out from underneath the boy’s hoodie, hat, and face mask were bruises, cuts, and deep scratches. Thinking quickly, the server wrote out a simple note and held it up behind the child’s parents so they couldn’t see.
“Are you OK?” the note asked. At first, the boy just nodded, but Flaviane quickly added another message: “Do you need help?” A small nod told her everything she needed to know.
“I’ll never forget the feeling I had when I saw that little boy,” Flaviane wrote on Facebook. “I just knew something wasn’t right! He was scared, and I was scared too.”
Flaviane told her boss what was happening and then called 911. When police arrived, they told Flaviane that she had likely saved at least one life that night.
“This could have been a homicide situation if she had not have intervened,” Orlando Police Chief Orlando Rolon said. “The lesson here for all of us is to recognize when we see something that isn’t right to act on it…. This saved the life of a child.”
It turns out that the boy was being horribly abused at home by his stepfather, Timothy Wilson II. He was covered from head to toe in bruises and was about 20 pounds underweight because he was often deprived of food as punishment. His parents were both arrested and charged with multiple counts of aggravated child abuse and child neglect.
A few weeks later on Flaviane’s birthday, authorities contacted her to give her the greatest gift of all: The boy whose life she saved is thriving in his new foster home!
“I’m super glad. I’m happy for him,” she said. “It just warms my heart that now he has a better chance in life and he’s being treated well and feeling love and being taken care of.”
Flaviane was showered with flowers and other gifts from her community after the story got out. Well-wishers even contributed more than $45,000 to a GoFundMe in her name! Instead of only using the money on a well-deserved vacation, she decided to continue helping children in a different way. She is starting a nonprofit called Flaviane Carvalho Foundation, Against Abuse. Her goal is to educate the public on signs of abuse so everyone will be able to step up as a hero.
Flaviane insists that she just did what anyone else would do in that situation, but all we see is a hero with a heart of gold! We can all learn from her example and bravely speak up if we see a child in danger.
Share this story to thank Flaviane for paying attention that night.
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