Zaid Reyes is 22 months old, and he has attended the Center for New Communities Family Learning Center at South San Filadelfia Church (SSFC) for over a year – since he was an infant. He is the first child of his family to attend an Early Head Start program. His mother, Adriana Cruz, attributes Center for New Communities Early Head Start with providing opportunities for her child and herself that has inspired hope and independence in their entire family.
“I dedicated my life to my children.”
Zaid Reyes’ father, José Reyes Romero, is an evangelist, and together he and Adriana have five children up to ten years old, of which Zaid is the youngest. Both Adriana and José are active parent participants at SSFC, attending monthly parent meetings and regularly contributing In Kind to the program.
Adriana tries her hardest to be involved with and dedicated to her children because her own childhood did not provide her with many opportunities: nobody in her family was educated, and she only completed through middle school herself. She was born in Puebla, Mexico, but was kidnapped when she was fifteen and brought to New York. When she escaped and her kidnappers were caught, her attorney and social workers helped her make her way here to San Antonio, where her sister lived. It is here she met her husband.
After her early experiences, she had thought that there was nothing for her in the world, no possibilities or opportunities; she had even been told she would not be able to have children. However, a month after her marriage, she became pregnant with her first child. She thought, “I thank God, and I am thankful to the Lord, for that miracle.”
It was a spark to her life, showing her what hope there was for her. Her whole life, and her marriage, has evolved through the church and through God. That was the best thing that has happened to her, because her hope and will to go on were restored to her. She was able to be surrounded by people that were there for her, and that is the reason she is here today.
“Having my child here has given me peace as a mother.”
She dedicated ten years of her life to caring for her children and husband, but her husband’s work does not always provide the steadiest living. As her older children entered school, and as she began to realize her work as a mother did not keep her fully occupied at home, she decided to find a job and keep her mind occupied. She began to consider what opportunities were truly available to her, and through that door of opportunities, C4NC was there.
It was difficult for her to trust anyone to take care of her son, but she found that Center for New Communities was there to listen to her. She feels that the staff at the centers form real relationships with the families and relate to what they are going through.
As she saw her son growing up at SSFC, she realized it was very different from how her other children grew up. She had always been the best mother and wife she could be, but C4NC offered educational opportunities her other children had not received. It gave her a lot of hope, and it made her feel like God was telling her she had made the right decision.
Having her child at C4NC gave her peace as a mother, and gave her the tranquility and surety to move forward with opportunities that were presented to her.
“When I tasted those opportunities, I didn’t want to go back.”
Now Adriana, who had not worked outside the home since her first child was born, has begun applying for jobs to help her husband support their family. While nothing is more important than taking care of her children and husband, now that she has the opportunity, she wants to accomplish many things.
She began furthering her own education, taking a course and gaining her food service certification. Her goal is to begin working in food service, and she has even applied for a position at C4NC. However, she has even higher aspirations: she wants to enroll in ESL classes to learn English, and then she wants to get her GED. Eventually she wants to become a school counselor.
Most of all, she wants all of her children to see she is moving forward and bettering herself, and understand and believe that they can, too.
“It makes them think, you know, I can make progress in my life, too.”
She has already seen her family – not just her children but her brothers and sisters, too – start to realize that opportunities are available for everyone, not just for educated people or people with money. Her brothers and sisters come to her for advice now, although she is the youngest, and she tries to be the best example for her family that she can be.
Like her son at C4NC, she will not be stagnant or stand still; she believes in herself, and she believes in God, and for her family, with the support and opportunities provided by God and the people around her, she will grow into a greater person.