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Fargo group that mentors children of color reports office vandalism

Rachel Stone, a Moorhead School Board member and the first African American Mrs. North Dakota International, said her office was targeted, but she is determined to move forward.

Rachel Stone
Rachel Stone, president of the nonprofit youth organization P's & Q's Etiquette, shows on Friday, June 25, 2021, the vandalism discovered at the group's office space on Thursday in Fargo. Chris Flynn / The Forum
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FARGO — Rachel Stone’s heart sank when she walked into P’s and Q’s Etiquette on Thursday, June 24.

The office of her nonprofit group that teaches children self-confidence, goal-setting and leadership skills was torn apart. Items that were neatly placed on shelves were strewn across the space.

Stone, founder and president of P’s and Q’s, said she fell to her knees once she saw her back room, now just a pile of the organization's and her belongings.

“I just couldn’t believe what I saw,” she said Friday. “I just said why, why would they do this? We are helping kids.”

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It’s unclear how the vandal or vandals broke into P’s and Q’s in the lower level of the Manchester Office Building at 112 N. University Drive. Stone said the door was unlocked when she opened it on Thursday.

She said she could barely get in, as a couch had been pushed up against the front door. There is a back door, though she previously was told that was also secure.

She doesn't know if anything was stolen, but she found checks on the ground, prompting fears her bank information was stolen.

Only Stone and the building manager are known to have a key, and both said they don’t know what happened. Fargo police are investigating the incident.

Stone said she hadn’t been in the building for more than a week before she found the mess. She came in Thursday to prepare for a Friday celebration P’s and Q’s was putting on for students who graduated from local schools.

Stone started the organization out of her local church, aiming to empower youth to reach their dreams through mentorship. In 2013, she obtained nonprofit status and moved P’s and Q’s into the Manchester Building.

“They have dreams, but they don’t know how to get there,” Stone said.

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As the first African American Mrs. North Dakota International, Stone has a passion for showing children they are valuable and belong. She said she wants to be an example and pave a way for young people, no matter their background, race or ethnicity.

“Our program really focuses on taking them through the steps,” she said. “How do you achieve a goal? How do you even set a goal?”

Stone has worked for Fargo and Moorhead public schools, and is a Moorhead School Board member.

Her office was the only one in the building that reported vandalism. She said there could be multiple reasons her office was targeted, but she said it's possible her place was vandalized because she is a Black woman who educates disadvantaged children of color.

“While P’s and Q’s is open and we serve all youth, I think that we have a niche,” she said.

Stone also is an advocate for Black Lives Matter and teaches her students to stand up against injustices.

“I don’t know if that is specifically it, but we were targeted,” she said. “You really have to seek us out. We’re not easy to find.”

Stone said she plans to move out of the building.

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Vandalism at P's & Q's.
Items at P's & Q's Etiquette, a nonprofit organization for empowering children, are seen on the ground Friday, June 25, 2021, after the group's Fargo office space was vandalized. Chris Flynn / The Forum

Despite the vandalism, Stone is determined to move forward. She said she wants to bring the community together in unity, and she believes she was made to give kids hope and inspiration.

That includes holding Friday’s graduation event at a local park. She and the children have overcome many challenges, and Friday is a day for celebrating her students, she said.

“I have always had a mind that nothing is going to stop me from impacting their lives,” she said of her students. “At the end of the day, I'm leaving a legacy behind, and those kids are going to carry on that legacy.”

Former Moorhead Mayor Del Rae Williams set up a Facebook fundraiser for P’s and Q’s that had collected more than $5,000 as of Sunday afternoon. Stone also has a GoFundMe fundraiser.

April Baumgarten joined The Forum in February 2019 as an investigative reporter. She grew up on a ranch 10 miles southeast of Belfield, N.D., where her family raises Hereford cattle. She double majored in communications and history/political science at the University of Jamestown, N.D.
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