Trauma Turned My Life Around

By Kristine Hansen | Photography by Hillary Schave

Growing up on Chicago’s South Side, Jevon Diming experienced generational trauma: several cousins were killed by gun violence and her nephew, Pierre, was a victim of gun violence.

“My mother was a great mother, but she passed on to her children that poverty was normal,” says Diming. “She never taught us how to overcome it. She taught us how to live with it. My story is a cultural reflection of unresolved pain in the Black community.”

Her experience pushed her to found the Pierre Outreach Safe House (POSH) program in Madison in 2012. Diming, who earned a psychology degree at Edgewood College, mentors and does outreach with Black teen girls in the community.

However, Diming is working toward an even bigger goal: opening a safe house later this year for teen girls who have been referred to POSH by Dane County school districts. The house will have a unique, whole-family approach to assisting Black teenage girls and their mothers with life skills. It’s an initiative that Diming feels would have benefitted her and her community growing up.

“Black girls intergenerationally are more likely to be overlooked … [They] are viewed as complicated, aggressive, angry and placed socially and economically last. [They] have traditionally suffered with a lack of resources that cater to their actual challenges. This has prevented Black girls from upward mobility in society… Pierre Outreach Safe House will be the strong model to create successful outcomes for girls and their mothers,” she says.

Teen girls will have access to therapy and learn about proper nutrition, study habits and career opportunities. Residents will live at the safe house Monday through Thursday, while attending school. Weekends are spent with family at home. Mothers are also provided with support.

“A lot of girls live in challenging environments. They are developing their attitudes and character within these environments,” says Diming. “Ninety percent of the reason our girls are acting up is because of school and family issues. When we come in with a co-supportive role, we’re more likely to be successful. Once our girls leave, we are a lifeline if they choose. We are not going anywhere until they say, ‘I’ve figured this out and I’m ready to fly.’ This is part of the contract between us and the family.”

In December, United Madison founder (and 2023 BRAVA Woman to Watch) Diane Hanson committed to giving Diming a portion of the $10,000 she was awarded by 100 Women Who Care. “[Diane has] been a big supporter and a trusted partner,” says Diming.

Two years ago, Diming toured the Maya Angelou Public Charter School in Washington, D.C., which provides a secure place to live for 20 students during the week. It left an indelible impression.

“They told me this is how they changed their community,” she says.

More from Kristine Hansen
Entertain Like a Chef
We talked to Giovanni Novella, chef-owner of Bar Corallini in Madison, to...
Read More
0 replies on “Trauma Turned My Life Around”