Promotora Profiles: Gabriela Gonzalez

Gabriela Gonzalez, Director of Esperanza’s Promotores Program, took some time from her busy schedule to chat about her work with the organization over the past 20 years.

When Gabriela Gonzalez isn’t conducting outreach to help improve the collective well-being of South LA residents, she enjoys spending time at home with her loved ones.

“Being a promotora can be emotionally overwhelming. We do hear a lot of stories about residents getting evicted and children suffering asthma attacks or lead poisoning, so taking care of myself is very important for me to do my work. I have 3 children: ages 23, 18, and 12. Being a mom and spending time with them recharges me.”

Although at times Gonzalez may feel overwhelmed during her daily interactions with residents, she says that this part of her job is her favorite.

“It’s very close to my heart because I grew up in South LA. There’s never a boring day and every day is different. Although I have several tasks to handle, I get to meet people in my community every day and hear their stories.”

Gonzalez always intended to establish a career that allowed her to give back to the community, which is why Esperanza’s Promotores program appealed to her.

“I first became involved with Esperanza in 1999 through the Promotores Training Program. I found out about the program from a church bulletin announcement, which was advertising this ‘mommy-baby’ program.”

Gonzalez’s oldest child was then 3 years old, so she attended the training program after one of the church’s Sisters of Social Services referred her to Esperanza. 20 years later, Gonzalez is looking forward to what she and he cohort can accomplish together. She states that Esperanza’s goal is to continue empowering the residents of South LA, as the majority of them rent.

“We have a huge community of renters that needs education on tenant rights.”

However, when residents secure a place to rent, the responsibility to start and sustain a healthy home in the communities that Esperanza serves can prove to be quite difficult. Gonzalez finds it critical to provide families with information and methods to mitigate cases of lead poisoning, asthma attacks, as well as unwelcome appearances of rats and roaches at homes.

“Families are embarrassed by the conditions of their own homes when they have visitors. That’s why one of our goals as promotores is to not only get rid of environmental hazards, but to also improve the self esteem of South LA residents.”

Through constant one-on-one interactions and personal home visits, Gonzalez believes that she and Esperanza are building trust in South LA. She emphasizes that gaining the trust of South LA residents is a step-by-step process, as communities may feel suspicious of any kind of government program or agency.

“Promotores are starting to have ongoing trust with these people. We see them every day at the market, the laundromat, and especially the Mercado (Mercado La Paloma). The relationship never ends.”

For more information about Promotores De Salud, contact Gabriela Gonzalez @

People Not Pozos – Health & Environmental Justice Workshop Series


Join us on Thursday, July 23, July 27, & August 6, 2015 at Senderos: 2141 Estrella Avenue in South Los Angeles to learn more about the presence of urban oil & natural gas extraction within our communities and the potential short/long-term effects that we may experience in the near future.

Be sure to register by calling (213) 748-7285.

Register by Calling (213) 748-7285

Controversial urban oil field voluntarily agrees to halt operations


Controversial urban oil field voluntarily agrees to halt operations       Allenco Energy Co. will suspend operations at a South L.A. oil field pending completion of investigations into health complaints.

Operations to be halted at L.A. oil field

November 22, 2013, 10:18 p.m.

Operators of a controversial urban oil field in South Los Angeles voluntarily agreed Friday to halt operations pending completion of investigations prompted by complaints from neighbors, who blame noxious vapors for persistent respiratory ailments, headaches and nosebleeds.

The move comes a few weeks after U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) urged Allenco Energy Co. to suspend oil production in the University Park neighborhood, half a mile north of USC, “until the experts tell us it is safe for our most vulnerable populations.”

In a letter to Boxer, Allenco President Peter Allen agreed and said the decision to suspend operations was made “to give you and the residents in our area a greater sense of confidence in our ability to operate responsibly and to appropriately address any concerns.”

Barry Wallerstein, executive director of the South Coast Air Quality Management District, said that it “doesn’t happen very often that an operator voluntarily shuts down in response to concerns expressed by the community and its elected representatives — in this case, Sen. Boxer.”

He added that Allen “had committed to make changes in equipment that was responsible for those vapors leaving the facility.”

“He was quite sincere in resolving the problems and making the necessary equipment modifications,” Wallerstein said of Allen.

Allenco is the focus of ongoing investigations by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the South Coast air quality agency, the city attorney’s office, the county Department of Health and the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, which leases the 2-acre site to the company.

“I appreciate the company’s decision to suspend operations,” Los Angeles City Atty. Mike Feuer said. “Our investigation into the company’s compliance with the law continues.”

A team of federal and county environmental officers was recently overwhelmed by toxic vapors while touring the site, lending support to residents’ suspicions that odors from the facility are making people sick. The neighborhood surrounding the oil field includes homes and schools, as well as the Doheny Campus of Mount St. Mary’s College.

Complaints related to the facility increased in 2010, when Allenco boosted production at its wells by more than 400%. Neighbors complained to the air quality agency 251 times over the next three years. The air district responded by issuing 15 citations against Allenco for foul odors and equipment problems.

But frustrations over the air district’s inability to say whether fumes from the oil field are hazardous triggered the ongoing investigations aimed at determining the cause of the ailments, as well as the validity of Allenco’s operating permits and the archdiocese’s lease agreements with the company.

“Even while our operations are down, we will continue to work with the regulating agencies,” Allen said in his letter to Boxer. “We will continue to seek advice from the community, and we have already hired engineering firms and environmental consultants to help us improve our operations.”

Neighbors applauded the company’s decision.

“It’s a great victory for a community that has been living and suffering in the air plume of Allenco’s emissions,” said Nancy H. Ibrahim, executive director of Esperanza Community Housing Corp., a nonprofit affordable housing developer in the area bounded by the 110 Freeway, the 10 Freeway and USC.

Said Monic Uriarte, whose 12-year-old daughter is among neighborhood children suffering from frequent nosebleeds:, “What happened today is a lesson for neighborhoods across Los Angeles. Don’t give up.”,0,7551455.story#ixzz2llyEh3B4