INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) - I've talked to Quintez's mother Nicole several times since he started his new job. When I told her Quintez said she was his role model, she took a long pause and got a bit emotional.
"I'm surprised. I'm really at a loss of words," she said.
Nicole has five children - four boys and one girl. They range in age from 7- to 17 years old. She has raised them mostly on her own, sometimes working several jobs just to pay the bills and put food on the table.
She said she wants them to have opportunities, to have a better life.
"One of the reasons I'm excited about his job is because the neighborhood we live in is surrounded by drug addicts and gang members," she said. "I see a lot of kids Quintez's age out at night. I see them at 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning and being a mother I tell them, 'You need to get in the house. Where is your mom?' I see kids my son's age and younger smoking cigarettes and it's not their fault. It's lack of guidance and outlets in the neighborhood."
Nicole said it's hard. The streets can be alluring. Kids want to fit in; they hook up with the wrong crowd and make bad decisions that land them behind bars or worse.
She knows firsthand. She said her eldest son, who's 17, was just released after spending a year in juvenile detention for burglary.
"He's taking steps to get his life back," she said, telling Quintez "why he should want to do the right thing and [being in juvenile detention] is not a place you want to be."
Nicole said Quintez has been listening.
"He gets a chance to show his younger siblings what a big brother is supposed to be," she said.
Part of that is working hard in school. Part of it is getting his first job. Nicole said it was Quintez who "took it upon himself to find an outlet from the streets" and apply for a job. Even after he was told the initial ten positions had been filled, he didn't give up.
He asked again. It paid off.
When additional money became available to hire 20 more teens, Quintez got a job.
"I was overjoyed," she said. "These are things he's doing on his self. They're things he knows if he wants a better future, he has to take the steps to make the right choice."