Saturday, December 20, 2008

North End Stories: Cookie Quinones

Cookie Quinones is the past president of NEAT, has a son in NEAT’s Teen Dreams Society, and after renting in the neighborhood for 27 years, her family now owns its own North End home.

Before joining NEAT, Cookie Quinones wasn’t active in her community. Eventually, she started to come to NEAT community meetings, but even there, she didn’t talk.

“I never thought I could have a voice. I wasn’t that type. I used to talk a lot, but in a loud voice. People heard me, but they didn’t listen. NEAT helped me realize that effective leadership isn’t talking loud, that it’s speaking clearly and with strength. Even my youngest son didn’t talk much, but now he is confident in himself…Working with NEAT’s Teen Dreams Society, he found that his ideas are important.”
Cookie was elected vice president of NEAT. “It was one of the most exciting things that had ever happened to me. No one had ever asked me to speak, to have a voice.” Since then, Cookie has gone back to school to get her high school diploma, and has inspired her children to attend Middlesex Community College to do the same. “I feel proud that I could inspire my kids. It was cool to see my girls go back to school after I did.”

After moving away, her kids have all come back. “Now, my son and his family bought a home here. All my kids are in the North End. He bought a home, and we’re all digging in.”

As a NEAT member, Cookie has learned to make big changes within herself. As President, Cookie has made big changes in her neighborhood, and is encouraging others to do the same.

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