New beginning for woman from Africa in a new Naples apartment

Published: July 21, 2022 7:31 PM EDT
Updated: July 21, 2022 9:34 PM EDT

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

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

Mengue may only be 21-years-old, but she’s a proven survivor by the fact she left her home in Africa to live with her mom in the United States. When that didn’t work out she found herself living on the streets of Naples.

Youth Haven became her shelter and her support system. “It’s not easy but just believe you will reach the end of the tunnel and you will become successful.” Mengue got her GED and is now a certified nursing assistant at AVOW Hospice and Mooring Park. Her 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 are challenged in our community in that there are many homeless teens that are couch surfing, living in their cars, living in camps,” Goldfield said.

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

Dianna Betancourt is the project manager for GL Homes that helped make this happen. “To watch and see this girl with such a bright future and so motivated 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 from St. Matthew’s thrift store. And, she had a message for those struggling to make ends meet, “Don’t let anything get in your way. Be strong because no matter what, you will make it.”