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Queens of Empowering the Youth donates school supplies to 278 children

EDGARD — LaToya Washington’s nonprofit group, Queens of Empowering the Youth, helped students at West St. John Elementary School start the school year right with the donation of 278 bags full of school supplies.

Washington also donated five free hairstyles through her hair business, “CrowningBeauty.”

Queens of Empowering the Youth was founded in 2020 as a female-led mentorship group to support young people on the West Bank of St. John the Baptist Parish. The Queens hope to create community solutions and send students down the right path, whether by teaching job skills or just lending a listening ear.

Queens of Empowering the Youth started its annual Back to School giveaway last year. While the COVID-19 pandemic has presented challenges, Washington is doing whatever she can to give back to the community.

She collaborated with West St. John Elementary Principal Chantell Walker, who allowed Queens of Empowering the Youth to come into the school and mentor the children.

Washington also plans to get involved with the high school as COVID-19 restrictions relax.

“I’m definitely going to do more public speaking and try to go to different schools in St. John Parish to give them some encouraging words. I would like to get a little building so I can help the kids who need mentoring,” Washington said. “I’m making cards and flyers for people to reach out to me. People have been contacting me to speak to their kids in the upper grades. I’ve been mentoring a few kids via phone, talking to them about school and college.”

On the first day of school, August 9, Washington and Latoya Lumar delivered a motivational speech to students at West St. John Elementary.

The sisters welcomed students back to school and told them to never give up.

Washington shared her story of dropping out of West St. John High School in 2006 after becoming pregnant with her first child at the age of 16. While she was discouraged at the time, she later realized that it was never too late to fight for her dreams. She obtained her GED in 2010, earned a safety technician certification in 2016 and received an associate’s degree in process technology in 2018. She is now enrolled in a petroleum engineering program at Nicholls State University while growing her hair business in St. John Parish.

Washington also spoke about bullying in schools and shared a message that everyone at West St. John Elementary should support one another.
“We are all family. We shouldn’t be fighting amongst each other. I tell them to always try their best, do their best and be their best,” she said.

Washington is looking for community sponsors to help her nonprofit make a greater impact in the community.

For more information on supporting Queens of Empowering the Youth, please email mslatoyawashington@yahoo.com.