Alana Allen, 31, Power Mentor
On a recent Saturday morning in May at the Windsor Recreation Center, Alana Allen prodded a dozen or so young ladies to stand before the group and share their testimony.
One by one, with soft words of encouragement from Alana, each shared what she learned during a year’s worth of sessions with the nonprofit I Am A Queen Foundation.
They learned to identify toxic relationships with friends or parents.
They confronted the absence of their fathers, and thought about how that may impact their romantic relationships.
They worked to let go of anger and bitterness.
These girls were as young as 10 years old.
Such is the impact Alana is making with her burgeoning nonprofit. Run on a shoestring and prayer, Alana has counseled hundreds of Greensboro girls through her intensive mentorship program and annual teen conference.
Alana has worked in public relations and journalism, including a gig as in the press office of former Gov. Bev Perdue. She is currently Director of Alumni Communications for her alma mater, NC A&T. But people kept telling her she needed to work with children.
So she started a little program at Windsor. Her first class was made up of her cousins. She used to stand outside of shopping centers or parks or wherever she could to find any kid who would come to her program.
“I used to go to the park out on the basketball court and ask kids, ‘Can you come to my program? I’ll feed you!’”
Eventually, it started to click. She started work with girls from Claremont Homes. Alana told the girls about her difficult past and learning to forgive. Learning how to say, “I am a queen.” They told her their own tough stories and secrets. They’d lost parents to jail or drugs. One was pregnant, as a result of being raped. No one knew, but she told Alana.
“I shared my testimony of forgiveness,” she says. “She said because I could forgive, she would forgive.”
Alana told them all — they are queens, too. They needed to hear that.
“Usually, if I meet a kid with a bad attitude, it’s because they are angry, and I am going to break you down (and make you laugh),” Alana says. “Next thing you know, you see that wall come down.”
This weekend, I Am A Queen will host its annual teen empowerment conference – with 175 girls tackling touch topics like confidence. The free event sold out of spots in less than ten days.