Culturally, a Madrina is like a second mom or a cool aunt.
“You have to give your time, your energy, your passion, your patience,” said Verónica Macías, who is the co-founder of Madrinas para Latinas USA along with CR Lara.
Madrinas para Latinas USA is a program in the making with the goal of uplifting teenage girls between 8th and 12th grade.
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“Don’t stop dreaming, you can be whatever you want but just be you, just be happy, be excited,” added Macías.
The plan is to start with a group of 20 high schoolers and the mentors are already on board.
“I just want them to have another outlet," said Leslie Almaguer, who is a mentor of the program. “Sometimes it is just really difficult to talk to your mom or talk to someone you already know about something really difficult, and you don’t know how to go about it and going up to them, so just being that other ear.”
Almaguer came across the program while trying to give back to the community. In July, she posted on Facebook how she wanted to donate her daughter’s quinceañera dress.
“It was such a beautiful dress, so I wanted to give it to somebody who didn’t have the funding to provide her daughter with a quinceañera,” added Almaguer.
Almaguer gave the dress to Madrinas para Latinas USA and volunteered to be a mentor.
“I'm a teen mom, so it was just really difficult getting that support and telling me that it was going to be okay,” said Almaguer.
As a Paso Robles High School alum, and a working mom to a 15-year-old, Almaguer believes she can make a difference.
“I feel I can give something back to them in a certain way and hopefully be a good role model for them even though I have made my mistakes but with that, I think they can also learn they can make their mistakes, and they're going to be fine,” said Almaguer.
This initiative is hoping to create a bridge between first-generation students and their parents.
“We are sometimes struggling not just with our language, with our values, with our education,” explained Macías.
Mentors can join regardless of their educational background or career. It is all about guiding these girls and teaching them to embrace their journey and their culture.
“I think it is a strength to be Latina, I think it is needed, the diversity is needed, the culture is needed, the understanding is needed,” said Almaguer.
Madrinas para Latinas USA is hoping to start recruiting mentees through local high schools and middle schools across San Luis Obispo County in the next couple of months.
The goal is to launch in 2023.
If you want to get involved, you can email Macías at firstname.lastname@example.org
The group is hoping to eventually have a Padrinos para Latinos or “godfathers for Latinos” program to empower teenage boys as well.