Employee Spotlight: Monique
For the past 25 years, Monique has devoted her career to helping change the lives and trajectory of, quite possibly, thousands of young people.
Her journey began in South Central Los Angeles.
“In LA, my friends were all vanishing, and by that I mean they were being killed in the streets, or they were being arrested and imprisoned,” Monique said.
Then, things hit especially close to home.
“It hit me extremely hard when my little brother was taken, and I decided then that I wanted to change as many lives as possible,” said Monique.
According to Monique, where she grew up is often misportrayed, and people base their opinions of South Central Los Angeles on depictions in movies and what they see on the news. She described the neighborhood as a – “beautiful place” – with some – “brilliant, brilliant minds” – of people who care for one another.
As a child, Monique described being told that her ticket to success would be through becoming a professional athlete. But she envisioned a different life for herself – one that utilized the intelligence she knew she had and a dream of a better future for generations to come.
“I wanted to prevent that, to let as many young people of color in inner-city communities understand that a rapper or football star is not your only destiny,” said Monique.
Monique’s career with Goodwill began with a bit of apprehension. She initially thought of Goodwill as simply a thrift store, but as a former colleague – who recommended an open position to her – went into detail about Goodwill’s programs and mission, Monique immediately realized the opportunity and impact she could have.
“I wanted to change as many lives as I possibly could cause I got tired of seeing the same thing over and over again,” said Monique. “Not all of us even want to leave our communities, it’s just a matter of improving the circumstances that we have to deal with, [and] Goodwill has been a resource for me to do that.”
After relocating to Northwest Washington, Monique has been with Evergreen Goodwill since February 2013. Starting out as a part-time employment specialist, she then moved into a role as a full-time case manager, and Monique now serves as the organization’s director of youth programs.
Monique oversees our Youth at Work, Aerospace, Maritime and STEM programs, as well as many other services and educational opportunities for students.
While focusing much of her attention on building and managing the organization’s youth programs and services, Monique also devotes her own time toward working one-on-one with students, serving as a mentor.
“If they’re stressed and not having a great day, they know to pick up the phone and call me, and we have talks,” Monique said. “That’s been one of the most impactful things for me, is young people will come back to me years later and say … you gave me that tough talk, that is what helped me.”
From one-on-one conversations to discussions in the classroom, Monique has made it a goal to push students out of their comfort zone.
Students are actively involved in conversations surrounding diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), which Monique said helps to identify systemic issues as an organization that should be addressed and allows students to broaden their understanding of each other’s experiences.
“It brings about a lot of deep, deep conversations, sometimes not all comfortable, but the young people are willing to go through the process to get a better understanding of one another,” Monique said.
Monique is now looking to have these conversations continue to grow and happen on a much broader level, including more community involvement. As an organization, Monique also hopes Evergreen Goodwill will use its recognition to continue taking a stand and ensuring DEI is a focus for all operations.
“Are we as equitable as we can be across the board, for all the folks who work for Goodwill and all the folks who are being served by Goodwill?” Monique asked.
Looking to the future of her career and role with Evergreen Goodwill, Monique is actively working to expand the reach of the organization’s youth programs to include all five counties we serve, with at least one youth program in King, Kitsap, Snohomish, Skagit and Whatcom counties.
From navigating through immense grief to pursuing a college education while raising her son as a single mother, it’s no secret that Monique has perseverance and passion ingrained in who she is – and she doesn’t plan on stopping any time soon.
“I know that this is exactly what I am supposed to be doing,” said Monique. “Working with those folks who have been labeled and often times ignored because of the community that they were born into – helping them to see a brighter light at the end of a tunnel is what I am supposed to doing.”
To learn more about Evergreen Goodwill's Youth Programs, click here.