Derald A. Queen--a cut above
As a young boy growing up in the Claremont Homes housing projects, Derald A. Queen vowed that if he ever found success, he would help boys like himself. Judging by the citations on the wall of his Miracles Hair Salon, he's kept his word.
"Your dedication and enthusiasm was apparent," wrote the Johns Hopkins Children's Center, thanking him for showing young cancer patients -- who have lost their hair -- techniques for using makeup and wigs to make them look and feel better. There's also a plaque from the governor's office attesting to his ,, "high integrity and ability" in his long involvement with programs like Big Brothers and his efforts at teaching karate and chess to young boys.
"I try to use my life as testimony that you have a choice, that you don't have to be hung up by your socio-economic condition," says Mr. Queen, now 34, the father of a teen-age daughter, and the owner of two beauty salons and a karate school. "I'm a project kid, the oldest of five kids, and my parents didn't have enough resources. So once I got of age, I knew I had to make moves for myself."
He joined the Navy out of high school, learning bookkeeping and haircutting. He came home and taught for 12 years at the Baltimore Studio of Hair Design, and eventually opened his own salon. For years he's hired local boys after school for odd jobs and for sweeping the streets of his neighborhood. Many are also his students at the Precision Karate Club, a school he set up in the Living Word Christian Center, where he and his wife Maria are both deacons.
"Some adults never give kids any encouragement," he says. "So my main thing is with boys. If a man is messed up, his family will be messed up. If you save a boy you can save a whole family."
These doctors make house calls.
But, ironically enough, only to the "houses" of those without houses -- shelters for the homeless.
Thanks to a simple idea, and the backing of donors such as singer Paul Simon, a doctor's office on wheels pulls up once a week in front of homeless shelters in New York to tend the often ignored needs of the children inside.
While one of those doctors, George Hardart, is back at Johns Hopkins Children's Center as chief pediatric resident, the year-long experience of caring for homeless children from inside a big blue van remains with him.
"You're in horrible war-torn parts of the city and even though it seems like you're doing just emergency clinic work, if you're there for a year, you see the child numerous times. You become some sort of stability in their lives," says Dr. Hardart, 29, who worked on the mobile medical unit as part of a pediatrics fellowship with Montefiore Medical Center.
The New York Children's Health Project, which was created in 1987 after a doctor from Montefiore and Paul Simon visited one of the city's welfare hotels, currently has three medical vans serving homeless shelters. (The project has gone nationwide, with cities such as Washington, Miami and Dallas getting versions of the mobile units, but there are no current plans for bringing it to Baltimore.)
Dr. Hardart is interested in pediatric intensive care and ethics, but can envision himself going back to practicing the primary care he gave to children in the shelters.
"Seeing the children, and working with families -- and they generally had very good, caring moms -- I miss that," Dr. Hardart says. "I'm not in medicine for anything other than taking care of patients."