DOTHAN, Ala. (WDHN) — Paige Heffner begins every day on her back porch with her Bible and journal.
“I have kept the faith and just walked with the Lord and He just gives me everything I need every day,” Heffner said.
Paige has been a public servant for more than three decades, the last ten as the manager at the Dothan Medicaid Office.
Losing her mother to cancer at the age of 13 and her first husband to a health issue ten years ago, she understands the importance of health care.
“I have such a passion about people getting the health care that they need,” Heffner said.
Paige’s mother worked for the Alabama Unemployment Office and her grandmother was always giving back to the community which shaped her from a young age.
“I’ve just always loved helping people,” Heffner said. “That’s my passion. That’s my heart and that’s why I do it every day.”
Born and raised in the Wiregrass, the 1984 Northview High School graduate got her associate’s from Wallace Community College and bachelor’s in criminal justice and sociology from Troy University – Dothan.
“I worked two jobs,” Heffner said. “I worked during the day and went to school at night to get my degree.”
She started working for the state as a child abuse neglect investigator before joining Medicaid.
“She goes beyond her job description to help you, to help the citizens of Alabama with health care,” says Vickie Carter who worked with Paige at the Medicaid office for about 30 years.
The mother to one son remarried Rob Heffner in 2018. Like Paige, his two children lost their mother to cancer.
The couple had just finished remodeling their home in 2020 when disaster struck.
“We were basically homeless,” Heffner said. “We had the clothes we had on that we came out of the fire in.”
A house fire destroyed nearly every material possession.
“It’s definitely something that every day you have to wake up and say I’m going to make it through today,” Heffner said. “It doesn’t mean that I don’t have bad days. It doesn’t mean that I don’t grieve.”
Thankfully, no one was injured or killed in the fire.
“I just tried to count my blessings,” Heffner said.
She credits her Christian faith with keeping her focused on serving others.
“I’m very blessed to go to a job every day to help people to refocus,” Heffner said.
Nearly two and a half years later, Paige and Rob recently moved into their once again renovated home.
“I lost a lot of very sentimental things to me that I was able to really hold in my hand so I’ve just had to reverse that and just say, ‘well, I get to still hold it in my heart,'” Heffner said.
Paige documented much of her life. She began writing a book shortly before the fire.
Decades of journals were destroyed in the blaze.
Recently she felt God calling her to start over — from memory.
“One day somebody just said, ‘you know, you still hold those stories in your heart. So why don’t you still start writing your book,'” Heffner said.
On the other side of adversity, Paige hopes her story will serve as a message of hope and faith.
“Even through tragedy, He will restore what you have lost, but you just have to keep walking the steps of faith,” Heffner said.