My name is Margarita M. Caicedo & I’m 61 years old and I still have a clear vocation for service. I came to the United States in the early 80’s and since then I have lived in Reading, I think it was love at first sight with this city. Having lived in a cosmopolitan city like Bogotá, I think I was ready for this change, a city not so big, beautiful and I always felt welcomed.
The only problem was that he didn’t know English. So, I started taking the free English classes at the RACC. I worked in many manufacturers or factories before I had an office job, then I went to work at the Hispanic Center, and this is where my work with the Hispanic community begins. It was wonderful because the work I did was precisely what I wanted to do with my life, I was always clear about my vocation to serve. Once my children grew up and with more time on my hands, I began to work more directly with the community and especially for my Latino community. I have been greatly blessed and this is my way of giving back a little bit of all the support, love and help I have received.
As a Latina I know the problems that Hispanic women face in this country and for this reason I have always been involved in causes that mainly have to do with women and health as evidenced by my involvement in: Breast Cancer Latina Coalition, Women 2 Women Council Member (first Latina), De Mujer a Mujer, UPMC Health Education Advisory Committee, Latina Health Task Force, La Belleza de Nuestra Salud, proud founding member of the Berks Community Health Center.
Of course, I am also interested in art, politics, the environment and human rights. I have been on the board of the Berks Art Council, too, and for many years we tried, without much success, to form the Colombian association and since 2021 I have served as an ambassador for the Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation, which I greatly enjoy.
In the last 15 years I have served as Coordinator of the English as a Second Language program at the RACC; It is a job that I love, and I enjoy very much because, like my students, I was also there where they are now. I feel very grateful to life for this beautiful and unique opportunity to finish my career where I started it, it’s like closing the circle.
I think it is very important for Latinas to create a support system, for this reason I could not finish without mentioning the engine that drives me my children, my grandchildren and my sisters and my Latina Gathering, this is a group of women that we formed more than 20 years and we still meet; I carry this group in my heart because throughout all this time we have grown, evolved and shared; we have created a brotherhood and we have shared the difficult times as well as the happy moments.
Stay active, stay involved, & have goals. Just don’t stop living because if you are still here there is still a purpose for you.
Margarita M. Caicedo
Bilingual ESL Program Coordinator at RACC