2013 Hero Story 11: Maria Young
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2013 Hero Story 11 – Maria Young: The following story was submitted by community member Juan Estrada.
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According to Juan: Maria Young is a hero who exemplifies many in our community who have overcome great struggles. My mother has always placed my siblings and me above all else. She married the man who is my biological father at a young age. He was emotionally and physically abusive towards her. Although it was the only life she knew, she decided to leave him. Our welfare, then as now, mattered most to her.
She was 18 years old when she decided to brave life in a new world. She had a three-year-old daughter, a one-year-old son (me), and was pregnant. With more courage than any fictional hero could ever hope to muster, she put her fears aside and journeyed to from Mexico to America to build a new life. She spoke only Spanish and had no work skills whatsoever.
Nonetheless, she had a work ethic that can only be envied. Despite the language barrier, she secured a job in a cannery warehouse in order to better our lives. To that end, she worked long hours on the swing shift and was often forced to ride the public bus home after midnight.
Although she was a single mother trying to raise two, and then three, kids, she was adamant about succeeding on her own. She firmly believed that she should build her own future. Through her example, I realized that I could succeed despite all odds if I simply persisted and worked hard.
To ensure that she best able to provide for her three children, she pursued a higher-paying warehouse position in the cannery that at the time was unfortunately considered a job for a male. It was physically demanding, including lifting gallon size cans of fruit much of the day. Her request was denied, but she persisted until she was finally granted the position. As can be expected, she excelled in the position.
She also did her best to ensure that I would do well in school. Prior to entering the first grade, she had already taught me basic math skills, and other essentials, such as the difference between left and right. Although she could only teach me in Spanish, the head start that she gave me enabled me to tackle English, among other subjects, with ease.
She built confidence in me by letting me know I could always depend on her. As an adult, I never even consider that failure is a possibility when I embark on a new goal. When I do “fail,” I view it as an opportunity to learn from the experience. I owe all of my faith in myself to her. I never had to worry about failing because I knew she was my constant safety net.
I also owe the very fact that I am able to live in the US to my mother’s accomplishments and perseverance under incredible hardship. When I was 10 years old, a representative from the former Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) knocked on our door. He then told my mother that someone had informed INS about our undocumented status. He then told her that he was there to give us 30 days to leave the country. For some reason for which I can only be grateful, the INS agent then began questioning her.
He soon discovered that she had risen to the challenge. She had come to the U.S. on her own. She had then proceeded to work, pay taxes, learn English, and raise her children all on her own. He offered to represent her at an INS hearing, where he then recounted all the details of her life. After hearing such praise for the struggle she had undertaken, my family was allowed to journey to Mexico to then re-enter the US as documented residents.
Maria Young is a District 5 Hero who exemplifies many of the people we all know in our community, many who are heroes in their own right.