When I arrived in Reading in 1989, I was unemployed and limited by language. If my transition was difficult, it was even more difficult not to have help from anyone during that process. The doors I knocked on did not open and the battle was uphill.
But I did not give up. To get to know the community, I became a member of more than 15 Boards of Directors. I founded the folk dance group RAÍCES. Together with my husband, we formed the group Latinos in Action. We also had an educational television program for the Hispanic community. We carried out campaigns to register people to vote and many other activities to help the community.
In the jobs I had, I was able to give the first opportunity to many people who are professionals in the area today. If I could help someone or some cause, I was always there.
The difficulties I had did not make me upset or make me immune to what others like me could be going through.
Today I am retired, and when I remember those years, I feel great satisfaction. It is that feeling of abundance knowing that I shared my achievements with the community. The knowledge that I left traces in the arduous and difficult road that I had to travel. As Antonio Machado wrote, “Walker, there is no path, the path is made by walking.” That’s how my story went, and I know I made a difference.
If I did it, you can, too. Go ahead and work in your community and make a difference. The satisfaction you’re going to get is eternal.
Maria M. Garcia, BA, MA