2023 AMAZING NEIGHBORS - Forest Grove
Hometown: Forest Grove
Why she is an Amazing Neighbor:
Patricia Alvarado is helping educate and empower Latina girls and women in the Portland metro area through her work with Adelante Mujeres
PROUDLY SPONSORED BY:
Empowerment in the Forest Grove Latina community
Patricia Alvarado is working to educate and empower multiple generations of Latina girls and women in the Portland metro area.
Alvarado is the director of education programs at Adelante Mujeres, a nonprofit organization that helps uplift immigrant Latina women and their children through education and leadership programs.
While Alvarado now directs these programs, she initially found Adelante Mujeres to help her daughter.
“My daughter was very shy, so I decided to push her to get into the program, and she loved it,” Alvarado said. “Since the first day, she found her community, her niche. She started feeling comfortable with her brown skin color, feeling comfortable with speaking Spanish and English or mixing both, and being bilingual, and empowered to be who she was.”
Alvarado is an immigrant herself, migrating to the United States from Guadalajara, Mexico, as a young adult. When she first came to the U.S., Alvarado worked and lived in an Oregon migrant camp picking berries until she decided to begin pursuing higher education at Portland Community College.
“I decided that I needed a better education and to learn English to better support my children,” Alvarado said. “I started volunteering at my son’s Head Start program, and through my daughter, I discovered the Adelante Mujeres Chicas program.”
The Chicas Youth Development Program at Adelante Mujeres provides services that help over 600 Latina youth develop leadership skills, foster cultural identity and improve their academic success from third grade through college.
Alvarado was inspired through working with the program to continue her education. Alvarado went on to get a bachelor’s degree in social science from Portland State and earn her master’s degree in adult education.
After earning her second and third degrees, Alvarado began pouring her time and passion into the adult education program at Adelante Mujeres.
“I loved it because all of those women reminded me of myself when I first migrated to this country,” she said. “I was looking for better tools to raise my children, be a better parent, learn English and be able to communicate with other people and be able to express myself, and be a leader in my community as well as support my children’s education.”
Alvarado also helps lead a myriad of workshops that boost cultural pride in the Latino community. She helps foster cultural storytelling and activities that educate the Latino youth on their heritage and the importance of their culture and language.
“It’s important to provide a safe space and to have a place where we belong, where we feel that we’re safe, that we can be ourselves and that we can express our voice,” Alvarado said. “We’re teaching our youth the right history of our community, and uplifting the values that the first immigrants from our community did too.”
Alvarado is proud to be a part of Adelante Mujeres’ success, as the program has had a 100% high school graduation rate for the past 10 years and 95% college enrollment.
She hopes that her work and the organization will help people see her community’s greatness.
“I want people to open up the space for all of us and to remember that we’re a resilient community. We’re not the criminals or needy community that many times portray us to be. We are a strong community.”