Monique grew up in Marysville, Washington. Her younger years came with a lot of responsibility. As the oldest, she learned to take care of herself and her younger brother. Monique’s parents both worked full time and her mother worked longer hours than her father. Monique grew up around domestic violence and often listened to her parents fight. Because of this extra stress and responsibility, Monique struggled academically. Although she struggled academically, it didn’t stop her from enjoying school. She was able to find happiness and a sense of community from her friends and teachers in school and it became her safe space.

Monique graduated from high school and attended college in the fall after graduation. Before graduating, Monique’s family had been struggling with domestic violence. To get away from the abuse, Monique and her mother left their home to start over. They stayed in a shelter for DV survivors while waiting for housing. Monique felt drained while living in the shelter, she said “When you’re there, you’re stressed out about everything that’s wrong and needs fixing. On top of that, that is the way everyone around you feels. It is overwhelming.” Monique went from living in a house to a small room shared with her mother.

Photo of a woman holding a graduation certificate in front of a wood wall with an artful cage holding colored balls.

The drastic lifestyle change was unsettling and was not easy to get used to. They lived in the shelter for about two years when they decided they couldn’t wait any longer. They pulled together their resources and rented a room together. Slowly they began getting back on their feet. Monique and Mariana moved a couple more times until they were able to get a place on their own. Through all of their struggles and moving, Monique stayed in College, trying her best. She was diagnosed with ADHD when she was 21. Her struggles in school finally had an explanation. Monique although driven, had a hard time with certain subjects and retaining the information she was taught. She felt like something was wrong with her. His diagnosis came as a relief. School became easier for her as she was able to use the appropriate coping skills for ADHD. She still had her struggles but she never stopped trying. Her dedication and persistence were obvious to everyone when she came into the program.

Monique and Her mother Mariana found the program and decided to attend together. They both met with Jerron to talk about the program to see if it was a good fit. From the first meeting, they felt welcomed and supported by Jerron. They officially decided to attend the program. Monique started out very soft-spoken but her confidence grew quickly. When it was time to pick the enterprise they wanted to go into, Monique convinced her mother to take Renew Home and Decor with her. She knew it would be a challenge for both of them, Monique had no work experience and Mariana only had kitchen knowledge and English was her second language. With a bit of persuasion, Monique convinced her to go into Renew with her. She helped her mother with her English and they quickly became a “Dream Team.” Both of them honed in on furniture restoration and refurbishing. They frequently brought in pieces they found to fix and sell in Renew. Julie, their trainer was proud of their motivation to learn. At their graduation, Julie mentioned this. “You don’t have anything less than 110% to every project you do… You have a big heart and creative mind.” Every person who spoke for Monique at her graduation believed in her ability to succeed. Monique had this to say about the program. “This has been an awesome space to have support, family, and to be vulnerable. For a long time, it was just me and my Mom. You guys made things a lot less lonely.” Monique is now looking forward to graduating college and pursuing a job in children’s therapy or social work.