Inspiring Okeechobee: Tamisha McQueen motivates community and loves kids

OKEECHOBEE — Tucked away near the back of Douglas Park, in a nondescript duplex on one side lives a family. Just an ordinary family – mom, dad, and a kindergartner – who do extraordinary things. In the drive there’s an ordinary car, and from all outward appearances the family neither lives a life of poverty or extravagance. Why should this matter to you and me this week? In answer to that, it’s what is inside of the “other” side of the duplex.

Behind those nondescript walls, on a street that historically has seen its share of struggle and strife, there lies this duplex where someone is creating magic! As you drive up to the front, and join in a late-afternoon conversation you notice a small playground and nothing other than that would hint at the greatness behind the walls of this house. Once you open the door though, you realize that love is found here at Peter’s Rock Christian Academy and Learning Center.

Tamisha Cummings McQueen

This week’s inspiration, I am writing with no help from friends, because I can speak firsthand about this person: Tamisha Cummings McQueen. From the moment we met it felt like we were kindred spirits. We actually met to talk about supplying our community’s children with back-to-school supplies and backpacks. Together we have been able to ensure our respective events have given out several thousand backpacks and countless school supplies to Okeechobee school children in just a few short years.

Back to Peter’s Rock though. About a year ago, I walked in to Peter’s Rock to meet this incredible woman who was living out her dream of opening her own center. She had been open just a matter of days and prayed that her daycare would be filled with young children. Her worries were for naught, as her daycare remains filled with eager young eyes looking up to her as their teacher. It’s not just that she ensures their safety, and cares for them. You can see she pours her heart and soul into their teaching.

I haven’t seen a kindergartner know basic multiplication BEFORE entering school. Now I am speaking about her own child, who Tamisha has made sure has all the skills necessary to be prepared for school, after spending her days caring for others’ children. In her words, “If I had to do it all over again, I would have done it sooner [opened the center]. Sometimes they WEAR ME OUT, but I would not give it up for the world. They say that I spoil my babies; I like to think that I am building their confidence and boosting their motivation.

Although all kids learn on different levels, LOVE helps them get there sooner! I may not be the best at it, but I want to be known for one of the best that ever did it!”

Tamisha also started a Facebook page (Celebrate You) to offer encouragement to women, and I can always count on someone to give me inspiration, hints, join me in a quest to find a lower number on the bathroom scale, go walking, join a gym, or just about anything that will add value to my day. Her page has grown to over 5,000 members who encourage and support one another. Celebrate You in conjunction with the Okeechobee Community Improvement Association are working together to bring the 2017 Neighborhood Awards.

This event is set to recognize community leaders in certain categories and raise scholarship monies for students to attend college. Then, in her spare time, she helps other women to write vision boards. If you have never heard of this, it is a board created to establish goals and dreams in word and picture form. When she is not doing that, you can count on her to be involved in a motivational speaking opportunity either here in Okeechobee or beyond our borders.

Tamisha continues to be a community organizer and motivator to do good works not just in Douglas Park but in Okeechobee and beyond. The thing that really inspires me is that Tamisha promotes and supports events which really embrace our wonderful community. I have yet to mention that she has the most heart-warming smile and esprit de corps attitude. To know her is to love her! Thank you Tamisha for inspiring not just your neighborhood, but our community.

Tamisha Cummings McQueen (left) and Leah Suarez (right)

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