I Am A Queen Turns Seven

by Terry Watson | July 21st, 2016

Desere CrossIf you told me seven years ago, I was going to start a nonprofit, I wouldn’t believe you. When I started I Am A Queen in 2009, it was during a recession. I was unemployed, broke and my life had hit rock bottom. There was nothing about my life that qualified me to start a nonprofit but my favorite quote from Steve Harvey sums it all up… “God doesn’t call the qualified. He qualifies the called.”

In the year of 2009, I was dealing with a secret that was destroying my life. For 18 years, I had been bound by the secret of my cousin molesting me at the age of 6. My life was spiraling out of control; I had low self-esteem, I was in and out of bad relationships and I was drinking every night just to sleep. On top of that, my dream job decided to lay me off because clients were cutting their budgets. During that time, I didn’t know Christ, I grew up in the church but I didn’t have a personal relationship with God. It took me losing my job to help me find Christ in the floor of my apartment. My nose and lips were literally touching the carpet as I was sobbing. However, in my spirit, I could hear the Lord, softly speaking, “Alana get up! You’ve already hit rock bottom, you might as well get up.” In my sober mind at that time, I seriously thought I was tripping because I was so used to coping with my pain that hearing the voice of God was foreign to me. I eventually found myself at Word of Life Tabernacle located in High Point, N.C. one night during bible study and Minister Lee was teaching on the three Hebrew boys in the furnace and how God stepped in. This story blew my mind because as a child I remember hearing all about this but in my broken spirit and mind it set me free because I honestly believed if God could step in the fire for them, He definitely could handle my flames. So as I’m sitting in the pew listening, the Holy Spirit started dealing with me and I started writing “I Am A Queen” all over my notebook. As I’m writing, I could hear the Lord say, “How can you want to help other people but you won’t allow me to help you?” At that moment, I was done because I had a passion for helping people but I was so much of a workaholic I didn’t want to deal with me. So God dealt with me and He got all up in my business, and He started tugging on my spirit and I knew I had to forgive my cousin for what he did but I also had to forgive my family members who hid my secret. That night I forgave my cousin, and my forgiveness didn’t require me to call him up to give him a speech but my forgiveness gave me permission to be free from shame, humiliation, filth and guilt. Through this process, I took what I wrote on that notebook and I turned I Am A Queen into a reality.

However, I was a little hard-headed in the beginning, I seriously thought I Am A Queen was going to be a book club and I thought I was called to work with women. Well God had other plans; He chased me for two years to work with girls’ ages 10-18 and I eventually bowed down because clearly I couldn’t outrun God. When I surrendered, I started out at Windsor Recreation Center in Greensboro. For two years, I ran a mentoring program and I would go out into the community recruiting girls. I would go to parks, basketball courts and talk to people on the streets about I Am A Queen. I wouldn’t stop talking until girls eventually started showing up. I always joke with my team that my first I Am A Queen meeting was five girls, who I picked up in my car and they were all related to me. I was that serious about my calling but I still didn’t feel qualified because I didn’t have a background in nonprofit management but journalism. However, the Lord didn’t care; He called me for such a time as this.

I remember in year two, I was working with a group of girls and we were working on a project called, “Letters to My Sister”, and the Lord nudged me to tell my truth. Clearly, I didn’t want to do it, I was very combative but I understood my God and I had to give in. During that program, I shared my story of overcoming being molested and in that project; a young lady wrote a letter to herself saying she was now ready to forgive since I had shared my story. She revealed for the past five years she had been getting raped by her step-grandfather and she was currently pregnant. In that moment, I knew my story mattered and I made a conscious decision to always speak up and continue on my journey. We did get that young lady some help but over the years, there would be several stories from girls, women and men about being molested or raped, sometimes both.

I Am A Queen has impacted the community greatly over these seven years by touching the lives of nearly 5,000 people in the Greensboro area. We have a year-round mentoring program for girls who go through self-esteem and leadership development training and they also assist with the planning for our annual teen empowerment conference. In addition, the organization spearheads annual back to school drives, Thanksgiving turkey giveaways, Christmas adoption, winter drive for the homeless and the fatherless daughter community forum.

I Am A Queen has an amazing board of directors, some of these women have served since the very beginning of the organization. A lot of the behind the scenes work is supported by the board and I thank God for the women who serve in the spirit of excellence. In addition, we have volunteers and donors who are committed to our mission and they believe in us.

The current board of directors of I Am A Queen are: Joy Hester, Shaunielle Foster, Shannon King, Nadia Smith, Jasmine Wood, Desere’ Cross, Persephone Rogers and Kaylyn Daniels.

Joy Hester

I met Alana through a mutual friend/roommate at the time. One night, when we were having a girl’s night, she expressed that she wanted to start a nonprofit to help young girls. I saw her commitment to become what God wanted her to be. There wasn’t any doubt in my mind that I wouldn’t be a part of her vision. I was honored and blessed that she even thought to ask me to work with her. I remember our first ever back to school drive like it was yesterday. We only had a few supplies and it was just me and Alana standing outside. An older lady came to get supplies for her grandchildren; she gave me a hug and kissed me on the cheek. A few seconds later, Alana was laughing and saying “Girl your face is red; you got red lipstick smeared on your face!” I knew right then I Am A Queen was doing good and it was going to make a bigger impact in the future. I have been with I Am A Queen for seven years and I’m here to stay.

Shannon King

God has a mysterious way of planting you right where He needs you to be. Three and a half years ago I was asked to serve on the board for I Am A Queen; it was not an opportunity that was sought out by either parties, the assignment was simply a divine connection. It’s impossible to turn down such an opportunity when you know God has His hands all over it. I wouldn’t dare trade the opportunity for anything, especially not with the trials He allowed me to endure for the very purpose of serving our young ladies and giving back to the community. Everything I’ve went through to-date breeds my position as a board of director for I Am A Queen, and it’s a tremendous honor to work alongside of other Queens who were built for this journey, and carry the same compassion as I when it comes to serving.

Desere’ Cross

I joined I Am A Queen as a board member a little over a year ago. It has been a honor and a privilege to work alongside our board members with girls in the Greensboro community. As I Am A Queen’s social media director, I have thoroughly enjoyed helping the organization build its online

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