A Fighter Since the Day She Was Born
“Right after I was born they took me from my mom and put me in an incubator and I was in the hospital for four months,” she says. “No one expected me to pull through.”
But, Queen did pull through. She grew up in New Jersey with her loving mom and developed many talents, including a gift for fashion and for being a make-up artist. She also learned she had a commanding presence on stage with a great voice. She was an excellent student and the sky was the limit.
And then her mom got sick.
We see it happen all too often at Covenant House, and it is heart-wrenching. Amazing kids like Queen who have one thing happen, one stroke of bad luck and soon they are facing the frightening reality of homelessness.
“My mom worked hard for over 25 years as a hair stylist, and everything was fine,” she said. “We lived in a nice apartment and always got by. But then my mom had some health issues. And before we knew it, we could not afford our apartment anymore.
“The absolute worst day,” says Queen, “was the day I went to my college counselor to tell him I had to drop the five classes I had left to graduate. I just didn’t see any way I could continue going to school with everything falling apart.”
Queen was not dropping out of college by choice. She was homeless.
On what she thought was going to be the worst day of her life, Queen went to Essex Community College to drop the remaining five classes she needed to graduate.
Instead, the counselor gave her a list of other possibilities. Highlighted on the top of the list was Covenant House.
“That was the day that changed my life,” she says now. “That was the day that hope came back.”
Queen moved in with us at Covenant House in New Jersey and became a bright light in the life of every staff person, volunteer, and resident she met. She took advantage of every opportunity, every learning experience, every job training session we offer.
“I think what Covenant House does best is teach young people like me how to live,” she says. “It is more than just a place to stay if you are homeless. The staff here really care, they treat you like you are part of a family. They provide non-stop support and tough love when you need a push. They have been here for me through all my setbacks and all my successes.”
Lately there have been many more successes than setbacks for this amazing young woman. In the summer of 2017, she went through a rigorous application and interview process, and landed a paid internship with Accenture.
“When I went to Accenture, I felt like I had another great support system, another family, that I could rely on,” said Queen. “I learned so much there. I learned to be a team player. I learned how to listen. I learned problem solving and analytical skills. I learned how to adapt to different situations in the workplace, and how to be a better communicator.
“But I think the best part about applying for the internship, being accepted, and working on so many important projects at Accenture was that it gave me confidence,” said Queen. “I grew up being comfortable with people, being in front of people as a vocalist, basically being a people person. But the business world was a whole new experience.
“From the first day I walked into Accenture, my Project Manager Darleen Podlaski, and the Program Coordinators Sarah Cobbinah and Francisco Iturbe made me feel like part of the family, while also challenging me to grow and learn. I am so grateful and will never forget the Accenture Team for what they’ve done for me.”
Queen has big dreams. “I want to earn a Masters degree in Business Administration,” she says. “I want to work in a rewarding job, preferably in a business environment so I can be part of implementing a diverse, inclusive atmosphere like they have built at Accenture. I want to travel the world, and skydive, and someday open a full service beauty bar.”
Thanks to her hard work and amazing talents, Queen’s dreams are already starting to come true. She recently landed a full-time job with Audible, after yet another rigorous application and interview process. “I was interviewed by a whole team of people,” she says with a smile. “It was intimidating, but Covenant House and Accenture prepared me to be confident and just be myself. And it worked — I got the job!
“I could not dream any of these dreams without Covenant House, and people like Rose Stallmeyer, who dedicate their lives to helping young people when we need help the most,” she said. “Rose and so many other people at Covenant House have been with me every step of the way, through all my ups and downs. No matter where I go or what I do on this earth, I will carry with me a part of Covenant House and the amazing staff who work there.”
“Queen like many of our young people come to us with so many talents,” said Rose. “Our work is simply to provide housing stability, expand opportunity and support and watch them soar! It’s such a privilege to work with our kids, and all of us are so grateful to the supporters of Covenant House across the country who help make our kids’ dreams come true.”