Promotores Reflect on their Year: Maricela Rocha

Following the hiring of Promotores Leadership Development Coordinator, Anabel Hernandez-Mejia, the Promotores Program was developed and launched in the Spring of 2019 to increase individual skills, community building, overall understanding of and access to services, and to create a sense of advocacy within the wider community regarding issues that affect our communities of predominantly immigrant, low-income farmworkers and families. 

A prerequisite 5-day training with the Ford Family Foundation finalized the recruitment, followed by a 3-day Promotores Initiation Training, leading to 7 Promotores formally entering the Program, all women from 6 of our Woodburn properties, eligible to receive stipends and skill-building opportunities to help them and their neighbors achieve their goals. To date, all Promotores have participated in between 10-20 events each, ranging from trainings in confidence and public speaking, affordable housing, health access, food and nutrition, educational access, and more.   

Promotores now meet regularly to discuss their goals and the needs within the community, and frequently take on leadership roles at FHDC and community events to ensure families get their basic needs met. Promotores practice and learn effective communication skills which help them motivate and identify and advocate for the needs within the community.

We took an evening recently to catch up with 6 of the 7 Promotores — Josefina, Florinda, Maria, Maricela, Martha, and Minerva, our brave and dedicated leaders. Every week we will feature one woman, highlighting their dreams and goals until mid-January as we welcome a new year and a new decade. 

This week we feature Maricela Rocha, Nuevo Amanecer Resident, Mother, Promotora, and Woodburn After School Club employee.

On Being a Promotora:

“Mi parte favorita de ser Promotora es poder ayudar a mi comunidad. También es una oportunidad para aprender más. Ser Promotora me han ayudado a perder mis miedos a hablar y desenvolverse un poco más. Siento que a cambiado en la forma de mirar las cosas. Ahora veo mi comunidad con otros ojos. Miro mi comunidad con amor y respeto, con ganas de hacer muchas cosas, proyectos, para el bien de todos. 

“My favorite part of being a Promotora is to be able to help my community. It’s also an opportunity to learn more. Being a Promotora has helped me forget my fears of speaking and to open up a little more. I feel that I have changed in the way I view the world. Now I see my community with a different lens– with love and respect. I’m looking forward to doing many things and projects as a Promotora, for the wellbeing of all.”

What do you see when you look in the mirror?

“Al mirarme en el espejo miro una mujer luchadora, poco a poco va perdiendo los miedos y mejor madre, esposa y vecina.”

“When I look in the mirror I see a strong, powerful woman, who is losing her fears little by little, and a better mom, partner, and neighbor.”

What was your biggest challenge in life and how did you overcome it?

“Mi mayor desafío y miedo fue llegar a los 14 años a los estados unidos sin hablar el idioma. Supere un poco ese miedo leyendo a la escuela high school y aprender un poco de inglés lo cual no fue fácil teniendo una niña de 1 ano de edad.”

“My biggest challenge and fear was arriving to the United States when I was 14, without speaking English. I have slowly overcome this fear, beginning in high school when I started to learn English, which was not easy with a one-year-old.”

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