Latina of Influence

My childhood was hard.

It was a miracle if I had lunch money growing up.

I was born in East Los Angeles and raised in downtown L.A. in a 60-unit apartment building filled with cockroaches, rats, and gang members.

My family was broken. Drugs, crime, and jail time was normal for us.

I became a workers' compensation legal secretary, eventually earning $15 dollars per hour. In my family, no one had ever made as much as $15 per hour. To me and my family, I had made it. The American dream was accomplished.

But I knew I was destined for more, I wanted to help people in a bigger way.

I am now entering my 10th year at the head of Ortega Counseling Center, and our non-profit organization, Angels for Injured Workers is still going strong as well. When I became an injured worker myself, I had a lot of strikes against me. I hadn't completed my education, I was a single mother raising three small children, and I had no idea where to turn. This is what fuels my commitment to helping injured...

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2020...full of surprises that no one asked for!

As we close out this year, I want to acknowledge the struggles we have all been through. Along with the things that have hit me personally, I have witnessed the battles and distress of our clients and friends. I see the losses. I feel the trepidation of moving into 2021. I understand.

But even though 2020 has been one for the books (to put it mildly), I can’t help but see some incredible growth and love that has come out of it. I am not someone who goes for “toxic positivity,” but I still see some remarkable magic that has happened in the last twelve months.

Closer relationships from further away. We checked in with our people and rekindled relationships over the phone or via FaceTime and Zoom. I know people who haven’t spoken in 25 years, but who are now communicating weekly and are even working together on artistic projects.

Communities coming together. People have been running errands and buying groceries for their neighbors who are at risk and not able to...

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