What is hope?

It has so many definitions for so many different people.

It can represent a positive attitude, a belief in yourself or others, a way to move forward in your life when you seem to have hit another roadblock.

Hope can provide energy and lightness in the darkest hours.

Hope can energize, heal and provide that positive approach to life that is so difficult for so many to grasp.

Don “Dad” Davis is a hope dealer, and the likeable artist/philosopher has the sign on his man cave workshop to prove it.

It simply says “HOPE DEALER/DAD.”

It was a gift from one of the countless individuals Dad has given a new outlook on life to over the last five years.

“Now listen,” a grinning Davis quips, as he sits at his work table creating a ray of HOPE for someone he has not yet encountered, “make sure you don’t mumble when you say hope dealer. I don’t want someone to get the wrong idea and get me confused with a dope dealer.”

He chuckles as he goes back to work on one of the more than 3,400 HOPE keychains he has created and handed out to those in need.

For Davis, the definition of hope is always on his lips: “Hold On Pain Ends.”

“I gave out 13 keychains at my last meeting,” he adds, referring to the Twelve Steps group he visits religiously. “You know, I have a meeting today, and I don’t want to be late. I was only late for one meeting – back in 1983 – and I was 20 years late for that one.”

With his snow white mustache and the twinkle in his eyes, Davis is a modern-day Mark Twain with a hammer, a set of alphabet (metal) stamps and enough silver-plated spoons to provide a place setting at a state dinner.

“Folks are always giving me spoons, and I use them all,” said Davis, who got up from his work space and dug around in a large container of spoons.

Soon, he pulled one out that brought a gleam to his eyes and a softness to his voice.

“See this spoon,” he said, “look close.”

At the end of the handle was the name Hollie.

“Holli was my daughter’s name, although we didn’t spell it with an ‘e’ on the end,” explained Davis, who once made 521 keychains for a cancer walk. “We lost Holli (to cancer), but she’s always with me and my family. She’s here right now.”

Davis isn’t really sure how his hope quest began, or who he gave his first keyring to.

“I love to work in my garage,” he said, as he is surrounded by antique Coca-Cola signs, automobile and gas signs and pieces of metal that he will turn into pieces of art – like an eagle flying through the air or a flamingo perched on one leg – made entirely from spoons.

“I bought some stamps, and I do a lot of work with spoons and you know the saying ‘Waste not, want not?’ Well, I had a lot of pieces of spoons left over from my work so I made a few keychains. I probably gave the first one to a family member.

“Those keychains turned into about 3,400, and I’m going to keep making them and giving them out to anyone who needs a little hope in their life.”

Davis has enough stories of hope to fill an entire newspaper, and each is heartwarming and full of the joy he provides to those in need.

One lady who received a keychain from Davis wrote:

“So back a couple of months ago, I was at the Poverty Flats annual car show. It was kind of a tough day for me, because last year I was there with me dad. It was a great day, but highly emotional. I had the sweetest man come up and give me this keychain. He told me it stood for ‘Hold On Pain Ends.’ I absolutely love it. He didn’t know my story, and certainly didn’t know that a couple of months prior I had to put my sweet dog, named Hope, to sleep. He explained it’s just something he does. He makes these keychains and gives them away, just to bless people. Now, that is solid, old fashioned kindness.”

Davis said he once gave a keychain to a woman who was desperate, in need of a sign, a message that life would quit punching her in the gut.

She had moved from an abusive relationship and was seeking an answer, some salvation.

Davis could tell she was struggling, and gave her a keychain.

She gave him a hug and said that she was seeking something positive in her life, and he gave it to her. She was holding it in the palm of her hand.

Another young woman who was struggling through a tough personal situation received a keychain and said, “I’ve been given clothes and food over the years, but you are the first person to give me hope!”

Soon, he returns to his work space, where he picks up his hammer and begins pounding away at a spoonful of hope and salvation.

“People ask me if I charge for my keychains,” he said, “and I tell them I’ve never accepted a penny for any of them. I get something better – hugs.”