Thrift store

New start for an African woman in a new apartment in Naples

NAPLES

A young woman’s dream came true Thursday, her own apartment after moving from Africa to Southwest Florida.

Jacqueline Mengue, 21, has her own apartment in Naples thanks to three local associations. Mengue’s new beginning is a new apartment after years of hardship and homelessness. “I just can’t wait to see how it feels,” Mengue said. “Having your own bed, your own mattress…”

Mengue may only be 21, but she is a proven survivor of having left her home in Africa to live with her mother in the United States. When that didn’t work out, she found herself living on the streets of Naples.

Youth Haven became her refuge and support system. “It’s not easy, but just believe that you will reach the end of the tunnel and be successful.” Mengue earned her GED and is now a Certified Practical Nurse at AVOW Hospice and Mooring Park. His place to live is thanks to St. Matthew’s House, GL Homes and Youth Haven.

Linda Goldfield is the CEO of Youth Haven and she spoke with WINK News. “We’re challenged in our community in that there are a lot of homeless teenagers couch surfing, living in their cars, living in camps,” Goldfield said.

Goldfield said the goal is to make sure homeless teenagers don’t become homeless adults. “That frankly makes my heart sink, she’s a remarkable young woman who was determined…is fearless,” Goldfield said.

Dianna Betancourt is the GL Homes Project Manager who helped achieve this goal. “To watch and see this girl with such a bright future and so motivated to be able to have such an opportunity like this, it was such a great day,” Betancourt said.

Betancourt with GL Homes helped by giving Mengue $3,000 to buy the essentials she needs at St. Matthew’s thrift store. And, she had a message for those struggling to make ends meet: “Don’t let anything get in the way. Be strong because no matter what, you will get there.