By C.J. Salgado
For 26 years, Ana Maria Arroyo has lived in East L.A near Obregon Park. After twenty of those years, she wanted to make a difference so she founded the “Club Comunitario de Padres,” a group which brings local families together to work on issues that matter to them. For example, she felt people should know their elected representatives and be able to talk to them easily. So, on Saturday she coordinated the first “el café comunitario” meeting at Obregon Park, the first in series of such events.
It was coffee in East L.A. with State Senator Ed Hernandez, 24th District, as the first invited guest speaker. Thanks to her, attendees, mostly Spanish-speaking, got the chance to have an informal, close conversation with the new Senator over coffee and pan dulce. The topics of discussion were many from jobs to gangs, but a big theme was education, from how to improve the educational attainment of students in East L.A. to student internships being offered by the Senator’s office.
Senator Hernandez stated how important education was for Latinos and that those who graduated from college needed to “return” to their hometown to give back and inspire more of the next generation. Speaking Spanish, Arroyo could be seen prompting attendees to get up from their chairs to go introduce themselves to the senator, “para que la gente conozca a los lideres politicos.”
No doubt, true leadership can spring up in the unlikeliest of times and places, even in a park in East L.A over a cup of Joe.