Our Community, Our People, Our Leaders
My name is Debora Barrios. I came to this country 16 years ago from Guatemala and one of my dreams was to continue studying at the university level. But it was not as I thought. In my country, I studied law at university - here I thought that it would only be a continuation of my studies, but I found many obstacles because of my English. So I signed up for English classes at CRC and BOCES. When I improved my English, I thought I was ready for University, but it wasn’t like that. When I tried to enroll, I was asked for the GED certificate that’s now called HSE so I could continue studying. In 2013, I signed up to receive GED classes at BOCES but my time was limited. I worked full time and studied on weekends. For 3 years, I attended classes but failed to make it to the GED exam. During that time my second child was born. While still nursing my child, and when I thought I was ready, I showed up for the exam but didn't pass. In April 2020, when the pandemic began, I resumed online GED classes. Once my classes were over, I took the exam and earned my Equivalency High School diploma. Now, my next goal is to continue studying at the University.
As a mother, wife, and worker, it was not easy to dedicate time to my education since the only free time to study was after 10 p.m. - but I did it because I am sure that all that effort is worth it, so go ahead fight for your dreams!
My name is Jenner and I’d like to share my Community Resource Center (CRC) story with you. I came to this country alone from Guatemala three and a half years ago, at the age of 15. I was desperately seeking the opportunity for an education and a better life, and I was able to come to live in Mamaroneck with my family. When I arrived, I knew virtually no English but when I enrolled in Mamaroneck High School I committed to learning as quickly as I could. With the help of many at my school, and at the CRC, I progressed quickly and I now consider myself an avid reader. My life is not easy as I work full time at the Mamaroneck Diner to support myself, including the dinner shift from 5 pm to 11 pm each school day, but every day I am thankful for the life I have now.
I first learned of the CRC at school and I decided to join the Civics Education Youth Leadership Program to improve my English skills. I slowly gained confidence in my abilities and the contributions I could make as a young person in my new community. The CRC has become like a home for me, a place that accepts, encourages and helps me. As an immigrant being part of a group that lives and understands my reality has supported me in so many ways. I feel that I have a safe space where I can learn and grow.
Today, I am a High School intern at the CRC and I am working to support many important advocacy initiatives. I am also working on my goal of getting into college. Even though I know how much I will struggle to accomplish this goal, I am committed to continuing to change my life for the better. I hope to study computer science in college and with the CRC’s help I have been accepted to SUNY Potsdam, St. Thomas Aquinas, Manhattanville, and Mercy College. I know that getting in to college is a major accomplishment but I understand that graduating from college will be even harder. I trust that the staff at the CRC and my other community supporters will help me every step of the way.
Your support has made all of this possible! Thank you for helping me reach my educational goals and for creating opportunities for students like me. Because of you I have hope for a better future, because of you I know I matter.
Martha Carballo was born in Mexico, in Atlixco Puebla. She emigrated to The United States when she was 15 years old. She came to our Center in 2001 when the center was formerly known as Hispanic Resource Center. At the age of 21 she started seeking the center because she would receive counseling regarding Domestic Violence and she needed support from the community.
Martha became more involved with the center to support the 2017 New York Green Light Driver’s License Campaign. She went around the community and asked community members to sign petitions in support of the drivers’ licenses for New York State regardless of immigration status. She was not afraid to come out of the shadows during these difficult times because Martha believes that accessing driver licenses is not a luxury, it’s a necessity.
After her positive experience with the Center, she became more involved with the organization and around advocacy. CRC staff members quickly identified Martha’s leadership potential and invited her to join the Domestic Worker organizing movement. She actively participates and informs women about their rights in the workplace, fair wages, and empowerment.
Accostumed to working full-time, Martha is now focusing on pursuing her dream to complete high school equivalency and to further her Spanish literacy through the Plazas Comunitarias program at Community Resource Center. Martha’s dream is to open her own business in a near future.
"My name is Maria Velasco, I’m from Mexico. I came to this country in 2007.
On my experience, the Hispanic Resource Center has been vital throughout this time. Like many immigrants, I came to this country without speaking English, this situation was very frustrating for me, I didn’t understand when someone spoke to me and I couldn’t say what I thought or felt. A neighbor told me about this center; at that time was located at Boston Post Road, in a small area of St. Thomas Church; I stared studying English there and continue to do so, now I finished level six. Probably my English is not perfect because the accent and sometimes by pronunciation, but today I can understand when someone speaks to me in English , I can say what I think or feel about something and the most important thing, I can help my child with homework.
Besides, the help I received at this center is giving me the opportunity to help others. I live in Harrison, where the Latin population is growing, but unfortunately, there are not bilingual people in the schools, so when we have a meeting in the Elementary School I translate all the information what the meeting is about for parents who don’t speak English yet.
But it hasn’t been the only way in which this center helped me. Two years ago, I started to studying for the GED; as mother of two boys, I had never had the opportunity to study without the childcare program that this center offers. This was really helpful for me and the others classmates.
After two years of study, I managed to graduate and get my diploma last June.
Thinking about the future, I would be a Teacher Assistance and I’ll work hard to achieve it.
This center provides help many Hispanic people with a desire to excel and this people contribute to make this great country. This country doesn’t have to be great again, as someone say, it is great already, and this greatness is its diversity within which are Latinos."
Maria Yasmin Potes
Maria Yasmin Potes was born in Colombia. She was raised there for the first few years of her life, and attended school. At age of 16, Yasmin arrived in the United States where she would begin working and start to build her life here. During this time, she lived in Queens. She met her husband, Anthony Potes, and married in 1998.
Yasmin and her husband continued to live together in Queens for some time. Yasmin worked sporadically, but she spent most of her time at home raising their three children. She has always hesitant to accept work, as it meant spending time away from her children. In 2010, Yasmin and her husband moved to Mamaroneck. By now, their children were older and required less parental attention. This meant Yasmin would have the opportunity to spend her time making new friends in the community, and take opportunities to improve herself. Eager to get involved and become an active part of the community, she began to search for such opportunities. Yasmin learned about the Community Resource Center through Anthony, then called the Hispanic Resource Center. She came in as a client, and began taking English classes, yoga classes, and many other classes that the Center has to offer.
Yasmin became a regular at the Center, and demonstrated a strong passion for helping her peers. She was asked to join the Domestic Workers group, a group of CRC organizers working to empower the local domestic worker community. It became Yasmin’s work to share information and resources to the women that make up the Domestic Workers’ base. It is her vision to help her fellow women and community to become empowered, realize their potential, and continue to harness that power within the community.
Pedro Rivera became a new American Citizen on November 21st, 2017. This was a special occasion for him and his family because his wife Argelia, who is also from Mexico, became a new American Citizen in May of 2017. They have three children and came to this country in 1995 with hopes and dreams to offer their
family a better life. One of the challenges that Pedro found was the language barrier; “It is hard for an adult to express feelings, concerns, fears, as well as getting involved with his kids’ school activities”. He decided to register for ONA High Beginner ESL class at CRC. He studied hard at night after everyone in his family went to bed and, at the end of the course, he gave the speech for the graduation ceremony in December 2016. Then Pedro registered for the next ESL level “WCC Level 3-4” at CRC where he managed to improve his writing, listening, and speaking skills. At the end of the course he was honored in the class for his efforts, contributions, and attendance. He also attended OSHA trainings as well as computer classes (Google Suite Applications Workshop) at CRC. At this
moment, he felt confident with himself and decided that it was time for him to fulfill his biggest dream, to become an American citizen. Then, he attended the BOCES Citizenship class at CRC and with the help of his teacher, Beatriz Laserna, and his classmates. After three months, he was ready for the citizenship interview. Looking back as his journey, he is glad to share that CRC is an organization who helped him reach all of his goals and that the center is there for other clients to reach their dreams.
“I want to especially thank all my teachers, classmates, and CRC staff for their
professionalism, kindness, and tireless support.”
Santa Gonzalez never went to school. She arrived in the United States thirty five years ago and her dream was to learn how to read and write in Spanish. She came to CRC looking for a job and she found out that the center had educational programs. She was filled with joy once she learned that the Community Resource
Center offered Spanish classes. The CRC in partnership with the Mexican Consulate have a Plazas Comunitarias program which is aimed at people who have the desire to read and write in Spanish.
Santa is a very smart and consistent. She learned how to read and write “It was not easy for me to attend the CRC classes because I have had to work every day from early morning to 6pm and I lived in White Plains. Many times I had to wait 45 minutes for the bus. In the winter season, I always came to class. It
didn’t matter if it was snowing, raining or very cold I always came to class.
“My dream has always been to learn how to read and write in Spanish and with the support of my teacher Rocio Lopez, my classmates, CRC and the Mexican consulate and its Plaza’s Comunitarias program, I am glad that I have reached my goal. My next goal will be to learn English.”
“My name is Samantha Lima, I am 14 and this is my story: A few weeks ago, I was sent by the Community Resource Center to take a one-week art course at the Rye Arts Center. There I learned, among other things, to mix colors and shades. On the last day, my art teacher, Lauren, asked me if I wanted to help out another class that will be taking the same art course. The following week, with the permission of my mom, I became to volunteer for another art teacher, Nicole. There other than helping the students clean up once the class was over, I was also allowed to paint and have fun. From that week till now, I am still helping the art teachers Nicole and Lauren with the class. Today, both my mother and I feel very happy because I became the first girl in the Community Resource Center that was asked to volunteer in an art class. I also feel gratitude toward the Rye Art Center for their confidence in having me help them. They are also going to write a recommendation letter for college. I want to become a nurse to keep helping other people.”
Thank you, Community Resource Center!
"Mi nombre es Eddy Nieto. Les cuento mi historia. Llegue a este país el 2001 lleno de ilusiones y metas que cumplir. Pero no medí ni supe lo que pasaría luego. Un amigo me ayudo a venir pero luego me dio la espalda. Me encontré solo, dormía en el piso, conseguí un trabajo desde las 3.00 am hasta las 3.00 pm, trabajaba 12 hora por día y 6 días la semana, no me quejaba, me gustaba pero, empecé a extrañar a mi familia, a mis hijas, a mis padres, a todos. Recuerdo muy bien que al llegar el primer mes me invadió la nostalgia y una gran pena, cuando regresaba del trabajo con mi bicicleta, encontré un sofá que habían botado en la calle como basura, me senté allí y me puse a llorar como niño, quise parar de llorar, pero no podía, pasaban los carros y me miraban, pero no me importaba. Pasó el tiempo y logré traer a mi familia, arregle mi estado migratorio y actualmente ya soy ciudadano americano gracias también a la profesora Beatriz que me ayudo en la enseñanza y al Community Resource Center."