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Changing the course of people's lives
by Catherine Ruffing
Published: October 29, 2010
At the Gala, TRP recognized community leaders who have committed themselves to action in support of improving the lives of others. These leaders are behind the scenes, doing the on-the-ground work of community revitalization but aren’t in the spotlight. We honor these individuals who have committed themselves to civic engagement and giving back to their community. They are truly cornerstones; they are foundational to our work and to the work of making their streets and neighborhoods and city a better place to live.
A single mother of three who purchased her home in 1996, Ms. Perez not only invested in her community but for years has diligently fought with her neighbors to take back their streets when they were threatened by gangs and violence. Ms. Perez and her neighbors worked hard to close down dangerous hotspots and make the neighborhood a more safe and peaceful residential community.
Two years ago, Ms. Souto, a participant in the Mujer Avanzando program, was riddled with debt and trying to leave an abusive husband. Today, Edith is debt free, has begun her own credit history, opened a savings account to buy her home. Ms. Souto is now very active in her parish and community by working to assist the homeless, youth drug addicts and reaching out to women who have been in domestic violence to financially prepare them to leave their abuser. Edith plans to open her own business and create a foundation to give back in the future.
Maria Hernandez and Rafael Peña
Tenants of TRP’s most recent affordable rental building, Casa Maravilla, the Peña-Hernandez family are active community residents and members of St. Pius, a Pilsen parish. Inspired by the impact of TRP’s efforts in the community, they began volunteering, and most recently were captains of our voter registration drive.
Ms. Mercado, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2001. She came to TRP’s Stand Against Cancer workshops because her husband had lost his job and she didn’t have health insurance; through the program, she was able to receive treatment and beat cancer. Now Ms. Mercado volunteers her time as a health advocate, educating other women on the importance of early detection, and participating in a variety of other civic engagement programs in the community.
As one of Elev8’s first parent volunteers when the program began at Orozco Academy in 2008, Ms. Zamora taught herself English by sitting in on her son’s classes and studying his books, lessons, and homework. After two years studying she finally earned her high school diploma. Now Ms. Zamora volunteers almost full-time as Elev8’s spokesperson and has grown into a community leader, advocating on local and national levels on behalf of Elev8 and the importance of education.