One would be hard-pressed to miss Diane "Lady Di" Boles' message.
Emblazoned in red lettering on her cargo van and resource center, Boles advertises herself and her go-to phrases:
Let's talk about it.
Respect works both ways.
Fathers, be part of your child's life. Youth, let's work with our parents.
Love yourself. Respect yourself. Look at yourself. Take care of yourself. Have confidence in yourself.
Boles also dons all red, down to red sneakers with white laces, and said it's her signature hue. She uses red and white whenever she can, she said, because it signifies the blood of Jesus cleansing her and the white making her pure again. Boles is a practicing Baptist.
She catches attention, she said, and that's what brings in the youths.
From 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. each Saturday at 1125 Miller Ave., Boles tells "it like it is," she said.
She invites young women ages 12 to 18 to a "common sense talk group" on issues ranging from men, sex, pregnancy, drugs and alcohol, hygiene, education, abuse and self-esteem in a faith-based setting.
The sessions are free to participants.
Boles leads the curriculum and funds the program, which includes a recently purchased four-bedroom home, because she would have benefited from the program herself as a child, she said.
"I wish I had my program," she said. "I didn't have no one to come in and help me."
The North Las Vegas resident, who was one of 16 children, was affected by her mother's mental health issues at an early age, displaced from her native Alabama home before age 10 and shuffled around family members' homes and foster families.
The circumstances, she said, led to her being a teen wife and mother, high school dropout, sexual and physical abuse victim, prostitute, welfare fraud offender and divorcee.
"I had one bad experience after another, and I never recognized I had bad self-esteem," she said. "I knew the Holy Spirit was working in me, but I didn't have a handle on it."
Boles, 58, said she was sobered and straightened out by second chances, faith and the guidance of her mentor, Las Vegas education pioneer Helen C. Cannon.
"She was the woman who changed my life," Boles said. "I told her my story, and she said 'Di, I see something in you.' "
Boles is a corporate custodian, and she cleaned Cannon's home for 23 years. Cannon tutored Boles when she sought to finish her high school degree. The women would visit, and Cannon helped Boles re-evaluate her self-worth and changed her view on life, Boles said.
"She knew I was hurting and went through a lot," she said. "She became my grandma, mom, best friend and my spiritual companion. We always had the best conversation. She never told me what to do, but she always listened."
Framed pictures of Cannon hang on the wall, and Boles uses Cannon's old Bibles during Bible study.
"I try to keep a part of her," she said.
Cannon stressed education to Boles, who spent many hours in the library reading up on new topics, she said. Boles now encourages the same to her pupils and mentees.
"Education is the key to everything," she said. "I teach them to go off and get education and come back, start a business and hire people."
Boles stopped working for Cannon shortly before Cannon was moved to a Utah assisted-living facility. Cannon died in 2009.
"She told me I was going to miss her when she was gone," Boles said. "I do."
The lessons Cannon imparted are many of the fundamentals of Boles' weekly workshop. Boles said she's trying to break cycles in the black community but welcomes any young woman.
Friend Kathy Smith met Boles two decades ago as co-workers.
The pair hit it off, and Smith learned quickly that Boles cared about people, she said.
"She has a heart for this," she added.
Smith assisted Boles as she planned morale-boosting parties or collected school supplies for needy children. Smith sits in on the weekly workshops, she said.
"She's always trying to help someone," she said. "She doesn't want kids to come up the way she did."
Boles is a non-certified instructor, but her company is an established nonprofit.
Young women Boles has influenced through the years have success stories, she said. She mentioned a woman named Valerie as an example.
Valerie had a tough childhood, and Boles took her under her wing, Smith said. She helped Valerie hone her skills in school and on the volleyball court, which led to an academic scholarship. Valerie is now married and living in Hawaii, Boles said.
"It's not about me," Boles said. "It's about the community coming together."
The four-bedroom home she purchased this spring will one day be a training center for young women, she said. She has plans to add computer and sewing rooms, utilize the kitchen and open living space and formally dedicate a library in honor of Cannon.
"This is what my dream is, my vision," she said.
Boles has two children, Belinda and Courtney, and three grandchildren.
For more information, visit ladyditalks.org/ or call 399-5028.
Contact Centennial and North Las Vegas View reporter Maggie Lillis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 477-3839.