Our Fresh Air Family: Celebrating Women’s History
March is Women’s History Month! One way we are recognizing and celebrating the many incredible women in our community is by asking our Fresh Air Family to share their SHEro’s – the women who continue to propel our communities forward. A SHEro can be a mentor, a mother, a sister, a friend, a colleague, a neighbor, a public figure – or someone we admire, someone who advocates for us and others, who has touched our lives directly or inspired us from afar.
Share your SHEro!
Ricky Cruz – Director of Camp Junior
My SHEro would be my grandmother. My grandmother has been the glue and rock of her family since a young age. She traveled to New York City at the age of 14 because she needed to support her family. She then had her own family where her role as a traditional grandmother did not come. She helped her daughters raise her grandchildren from birth. My grandmother never second-guessed it – she stepped in where needed to hold the family together. She always prioritized the importance of education and would always be our biggest advocate. She never asked for much in return or gifts; however, I know the smile she gave me during any awards celebrations or graduations was the best gift I can provide. I am truly blessed to have had my grandmother, who continuously showed me no limits of love and support throughout my life.
My SHEro is my mother. My mother had three daughters in a place and time where having girls was something you got looked down upon for. Despite the pressure from her community she wanted my sisters and I to have the best life. She left her country and family for the safety of her kids.
Katie Toole – Sharpe Reservation Program Coordinator
I feel like any woman who is out there pushing to create a better world for not just themselves but women everywhere is a SHEro to me. My mom is insane in the best way. When she was in her mid-20’s she managed a bank in NYC but lived in my hometown. She was trying to get a mortgage and buy a house as you did in the 70’s. Every single time she went to a bank in our town to get a mortgage she would awkwardly sit there while the banker waited for her husband to arrive. She didn’t have one. Eventually she literally wore the bank down and bought and restored the house I grew up in. She was just so persistent that they gave her a mortgage to make her go away.
Victoria Thornton – Volunteer Coordinator
My SHEro is Tamika Mallory. She is a mother, civil rights activist and a changemaker for people of color. Her work gives voice to the voiceless, which in turn inspires me to continue to challenge the status quo, fight for equity and inclusion, and stand proudly as a black American woman.
Brandan Lucas – Systems Administrator
It’s hard to hold up one Shero above all the others. I’ve had the privilege of being around many strong women in my family and in my life. My mother and my grandmother were very important in who I am today. My martial arts instructor, who taught me respect, humility and how to make the best snow angels. The many awesome teachers I’ve had over the years who taught me, almost everything.
One teacher that stands out in my mind immediately is my 6th grade teacher Ms. Pierce. I had just moved to Queens from Brooklyn and it was one of the roughest years I had ever had. It was not a good time! Ms. Pierce saw I was struggling, and she helped. She encouraged me when she saw I was wavering, she disciplined me when I needed it. I got into lots of trouble that year, but she saw the source of my anger and frustration and tried to help me work through it. By the end of the year, I felt right at home. I won the science fair, I got 2nd place in the talent show, I made friends and I didn’t feel alone anymore. I would like to think that any teacher would have done the same thing she did, but I feel that at the very specific point in my life if it had been any other teacher, I may have turned out to be a very different person.
Amy Jiang – Friendly Towns Program Field Manager
My SHEro is my mother, Ma is what I call her. She is the most selfless person I know. My Ma is always there for our family, her friends, and neighbors. No matter how busy she is or how much she has on her plate already, she never says no and always finds a way to make it happen – if you can help, you help.
My mom is my SHEro. She is the best person I know. She doesn’t hesitate to lend a helping hand and that’s what really inspires me the most about her. My dad would say “she’d even give the clothes on her back if someone needed them” and I don’t think there’s a better phrase to describe her. She’s also incredibly thick-skinned. But she wasn’t always, so to see her growth in self-respect really inspires me to do the same even if it’s difficult.