Dear Adelante Mujeres supporters,
This week's article leading up to Adelante Mujeres' 10th anniversary celebration is a special one for me because I had the opportunity to work at the Forest Grove Farmer's Market with Mayra Hernandez (the star of this piece!) this summer. She's a great person to have on the Adelante team and I enjoyed working with and practicing my Spanish with her.
|Mayra Hernandez (right, standing) speaks with customers at the Forest Grove Farmers Market.|
If you're in the area, make sure to check out Adelante's 10th Anniversary Celebration at the Forest Grove Farmers Market on Wednesday Sepetember 12th from 4pm to 8pm. For more information, please check out the Adelante website.
-Erika Takeo, Summer Micro-Enterprise Team Intern
Written by Carrie Schmid
Thirteen years ago, Javier Urenda never imagined he would be working alongside his wife, Mayra Hernandez.
They were recently married, living in their native Mexico. He was a college graduate with a degree in civil engineering. She was pregnant with their first child and unable to finish her last year of high school.
Now they both work for Washington County non-profits, Urenda for Bienestar and Hernandez for Adelante Mujeres.
Hernandez, mother of two and Outreach Assistant for the Forest Grove Farmers Market, does not have the kind of life her mother had, who stayed at home full-time and raised five children. But Urenda and Hernandez say that her pursuit in work and school has been positive for the family. It was Adelante Mujeres, they say, that helped to empower Hernandez to accomplish these goals.
In Mexico, Urenda said, Hernandez “was more insecure. I can see she’s more and more secure. When she wants something, she knows she can do it.” The Adelante Mujeres program teaches women to value themselves, he said.
As a new mother and recent immigrant to the U.S., Hernandez said she was looking for more. “I didn’t have any activities,” she said. “I took care of the kids. I waited for my husband to get home from work. I didn’t have any structure. I felt like it wasn’t enough just to be at home. I was interested in a career but I didn’t know how to make it a reality.”
In 2003, Urenda introduced Hernandez to the Adelante Mujeres program where she could learn English, work towards her GED, take classes in parenting, leadership, nutrition and personal development, and take advantage of early childhood education classes for her two young children.
Hernandez has been involved with Adelante Mujeres ever since, first as a student in the adult education program and now as a staff member. The result, she said, has been a change from the routine of her daily life.
“Leaving my routine meant doing something different that would be productive and benefit me,” she said. “And by doing that I could help my children.”
It was a boost in confidence, Hernandez said, to earn her GED after her first two years in Adelante's adult education program. The non-profit's students are required to spend 20 hours volunteering each trimester of the program, and Hernandez spent her time working with small children. As a result of this, she was able to gain certification and get a job as a teaching assistant with Head Start.
Adelante Mujeres’ personal development class, Escuelas de Perdón y Reconciliación, also taught Hernandez to nurture her self-image, and value and invest in herself, she said. The ESPERE program teaches students how to cope with past aggression and transcend conflict in their lives.
After working for Head Start, Hernandez came back to Adelante Mujeres in 2008 to continue improving her English. She recently started working for the organization, helping to build the Forest Grove Farmers Market. Hernandez shares information with recipients of benefits from the federal programs that provide assistance for food, like WIC and SNAP, to help them understand how they can benefit from the Forest Grove Farmers Market, like getting $10 worth of fresh produce for free.
“Now, I really like what I am doing, to get in touch with the people most in need and to see what is out there and how they can benefit from it,” she said.
Hernandez, who dreamed about becoming an accountant as a girl, said that she has discovered a new passion in her work. In the next 10 years, she sees herself continuing to help people in need.
Hernandez’s children, Fatima, 13, and Carlos, 12, still see her biggest accomplishment in her role as their mother.
“She’s a good mom,” Fatima said. “She’s always there for us.”