Queen Lovelady will celebrate her 6th anniversary at CAPS in December, but her service to families began long before she joined the Parent Aide program.

As a single mom raising five kids, she found that her children were bringing home kids who were being abused in their own homes. Queen knew the stresses of single parenting and wanted to help other mothers in a tangible way.

She started a ministry called “Mothers in Christ”, working out of an apartment she obtained rent-free in the Elkhart Green complex. Queen and a small team of volunteers that included her ministry partners at Living Faith church, would open the apartment every Saturday to distribute food and clothing and to pray with whoever stopped by. Twice a year the ministry held events specifically for single moms. “I asked myself what I missed as a single mom, and a lot of it was self-care. So we had vendors for things like manicures, pedicures, massages and such, come in and set up to serve the moms.” Queen’s three daughters volunteered at the events, and she credits their involvement for developing their empathy. “My boys weren’t interested in being involved in an event for ladies, but they always lent a hand when someone was moving or needed physical help.” Her “Mothers in Christ” ministry lasted for a total of 15 years. “I still get calls from people we served back then – now I hook them up with the resources we use here in the Parent Aide program.”

Queen came to CAPS after life took an abrupt turn. “I was let go from my full-time job of 27 years due to downsizing. My sister advised me to go back to school so I could get paid for what I loved doing and had been doing in my ‘free’ time.” Queen enrolled in Ivy Tech and then at Bethel College, earning her Bachelor’s degree. “I was familiar with CAPS, because I often crossed paths with (then CEO) Candy Yoder at different events. She told me to get in contact when I got my degree.” Queen applied to several different organizations, but CAPS called back first, and Queen became a Parent Aide home visitor. And while CAPS is not a faith-based organization, Queen’s faith still informs her work. “I have a prayer app on my phone and a list of all my clients. Before I go into a home, I pray specifically for them and ask for guidance on how I can help them.”

She says her greatest pleasure is trying to help each family wherever they’re at. “The first thing I ask is on a scale of 0-10 how is your day going and why? It’s a good place to start the conversation. Sometimes they have a hard time opening up and telling their story, so we just start with today.” Parent Aide helps families experiencing extreme stress or a crisis to move through their situation. The service period is relatively short, no longer than four months. “I’ve had clients who come back into the program 2 or 3 times and they request me as their home visitor when they return.” When asked if this is discouraging, she immediately answers “No. Because I know how far I’ve gotten with them during the previous experience. And really we’re all not that far away from their situation. Bad choices they’ve made have come back to haunt them. So we have to help them make better choices. I had one mom who was moving around with her kids, staying at friends or wherever she could find. I showed her the stats on what homelessness does to kids and the light switched on. She busted her tail to get into an apartment.” Asked if she plans to continue working for another 15 years, Queen laughs and says yes. “I can’t sit still and stop helping others.”

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