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 @ firstname.lastname@example.org.