Latina Mami founder featured in “Latina” Magazine
29 year-old Gloria Perez-Walker, who founded the grassroots organization "Latina Mami" in Austin, Texas, was featured in the August, 2005 issue of Latina Magazine as an "Inspiring Latina." The article describes the story of how Perez-Walker started the organization out of her own needs as a 23 year-old first-time mother. She looked for support that came from a cultural perspective, because she did not relate to traditional parenting models. "Instead of finding support, I found demeaning classes and support groups where I was treated as a 'client.' I was disgusted."
Out of those negative experiences, Perez-Walker organized Latina Mami, which is entirely volunteer-run, and assists over 5,000 women a year through support groups, platicas/chats that teach valuable community organizing skills, a clothes closet, children’s events, a weekly radio show, and more. Roughly half of the women who volunteer or attend events are immigrant women, and the other half are 2nd or 3rd generation U.S. citizens. Perez-Walker says this is important for the organization as a whole, and that both groups of women are working with one another: "When I look at the stats on Latinas both native and foreign-born, we have children in our teens or early twenties and have more children on average than the rest of the population, I have to wonder why others aren’t working in a more culturally sensitive fashion with our group of women. Parenting support and community involvement are necessary for us to succeed, and for our children to succeed. Why are we still considered clients instead of fellow community members who can and should learn skills to transfer to our families and neighborhoods?"
Latina Mami wants to remain a peer support network: "We most certainly are not a charity —- each woman is asked to volunteer to help others like herself or trade clothing or items from our closet. Nor are we are middle-class mother’s group. Our volunteers believe that Latina Mami should be focused on the needs of working-class Latinas, since they make up the large majority of Latina mothers today in the U.S." Because of this, Perez-Walker is leading a membership drive from the local community in an effort to raise another $25,000 for program costs, as well as looking into a business run for the organization by its constituents, Latina mothers. Says Perez-Walker: "Latina Mami is not comfortable relying on others to fund us forever, since that is falling into the ‘poor me’ category —- and then what are we really teaching our children?"
For more information on Latina Mami or to make a donation, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 512-494-7758.
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