Parent Mentor Monica Espinoza

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Local News

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Local News

Celebrating Women

By: Ashmar Mandou

In honor of Women’s History Month, we showcased women from all walks of life who exemplified strength, compassion, and the motivation to propel their community forward. This year, we were inspired by several women who work diligently for the betterment of their community and we hope their positive message inspires you to be bold.

Monica Espinoza is a relentless advocate, fearless in her pursuit to bring more opportunities to students of color across Chicago as parent mentor, a role that positively changed her life. Espinoza left Mexico at the age of 17 to find a better life for herself, which proved difficult at first working long hours in a Chicago factory. “I definitely sank into a depression. You know, when you grow up being told, ‘you have no purpose’ or ‘you are only on Earth to cook and be a wife,’ you tend to believe it. So I lived everyday believing I had nothing to offer,” said Espinoza, a mother of four. Her outlook changed when she became a parent mentor at her son’s school McAuliffe Elementary in Logan Square.

“I was so depressed being away from my son, my children. I didn’t know what to do, my happiness came from being around my kids all day. So when I became a parent mentor, I found the nourishment I needed, I found my purpose with the help from other parents. Being a parent mentor taught me to look within myself and discover that I am a leader. The parent mentor program creates leaders and gives parents the opportunity to voice their opinions in regards to injustices that are happening around them,” said Espinoza.

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Local News

Espinoza’s leadership was tested this year amid anti-immigrant rallies and ICE raids with families being torn apart, a reality she said she has to accept if her family is next. “I have been in this country for so long. This is my home, this is the home of my children. I love this country,” said Espinoza fighting back the tears. “I will not allow fear to take over. Fear only oppresses people. I will not be oppressed. I have to represented families who are too scared to show their faces. I have to represent families who are living in the shadows. That is my purpose now. To fight to protect families.”

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