NEW IBERIA, Louisiana (KLFY) – Nakeisha Youman and Stardashia Conway have been best friends from a young age, both involved in criminal activity. After several run-ins with law enforcement, they decided to lean on each other for the support they needed for change.
Now they are offering the same support to members of the New Iberia community. They hope to be an example for those who are looking for a way out. “Back then you could fight and you didn’t have guns, but now we see so many guns we want them to know you don’t have to fight because it leads to something else and you can’t get back from that, ”Youman says.
It has been years since the two women of New Iberia have been deeply involved in the life they have lived. Both born in a struggling environment, their mentality has become biased, forcing them to see themselves and the world around them in a negative light. This led the two women to adopt a lifestyle that would take them years to recover. Youman said, “I might think about going to jail because of the drugs. I come from a family of drug addicts. Conway continued with, “We have gone from troubled times to now blessed times.”
Their bad choices had terrible consequences. But their experience is what makes them relatable. They say violence is the result of being in unstable environments and not having the safety or freedom to speak out. They want to provide the community with the help they feel they haven’t had through their “All good things corporation”. The mission of changing mindsets cannot be accomplished by both alone.
They are closely linked to organizations and intentionally build relationships with law enforcement to help build trust between the community and its leaders. They are also building a new resource center, giving the people of New Iberia a place to go to receive help with things like resume writing, job hunting and more. “We are observing the closure of schools and stores. It’s starting to be a ghost town. We are seeing a lot of gun violence and drug-related activity. More and more children are crying out for help, ”said Conway.
Both say they will continue to live and lead by the motto “Focus on those who respond to opportunities, build confidence and change minds.”