The conception of FOCUS Services began in Spring 2013 when Shaqueal was an MSW student at Howard University. Upon starting school, she knew that she wanted to work with LGBTQ youth but was unsure in what capacity. She was fortunate enough to join The School of Social Work on their annual International Service Learning trip to Cape Town, South Africa to find her purpose.
During the trip, Shaqueal visited various organizations to learn about the communities they served and to volunteer her services as well. There was one organization that was visited that began to open her eyes to her future: The Ark City of Refuge. This Christian-based organization was founded to respond to a high rate of homelessness and unemployment in the city. They provided housing, schooling, employment, resources, and many other services people would need to function in society. There was one aspect of the organization that was even more intriguing to Shaqueal: they were completely volunteer run!
Shaqueal expressed her amazement with her professors and told them how she would love to see something similar in the States. They encouraged her to talk with the founder to see what he steps he took to get started. Shaqueal met with the founder, and she reflected on the information at the top of Table Mountain. While overlooking the ocean and being consumed in the passing clouds, Shaqueal realized that she wanted to incorporate a model like The Ark that concentrated on housing LGBTQ+ youth who were kicked out or who ran way from home.
Shaqueal shared this information with her professors, and they provided her with several local resources to get started. This trip taught Shaqueal that it only takes one passionate person to inspire positive changes for many, and you can do the seemingly impossible when provided with the right opportunities. Keeping these things in mind, Shaqueal wanted to found an organization that FOCUSed on the community and help them with Finding Opportunities and Consistently Uplifting Self.