The De La Paz Family
In 1978, Maria De La Paz and her family found themselves in a new city, settling in Viramendi Courts on San Antonio’s West Side. As a devoted mother of six, Maria felt overwhelmed and isolated, finding it challenging to leave her home due to a lack of social support and unfamiliarity with the area. One day, while her youngest child, Gladys, was just a baby, Maria received a visit from a representative of AVANCE. Initially hesitant, the representative spoke Spanish and showed warmth and compassion, instantly putting Maria at ease, and she decided to enroll in PCEP.
Enrolling in PCEP had a profound impact on Maria’s life. Through the program, which was attended by fellow Spanish-speaking mothers, she was introduced to innovative techniques for crafting homemade toys and enhancing communication with her children. Moreover, PCEP provided her with a comforting sense of community and togetherness among the staff and other mothers. Although the transition back to work after completing the program presented difficulties, Maria profoundly appreciates the opportunity to connect with other mothers and acquire valuable tools for fostering her children’s growth and development.
Gladys’ experience with PCEP as a baby left a lasting impact on her life. Her early exposure to learning and socializing with others laid the foundation for her passion for education. With dedication and hard work, she pursued a Bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies with a minor in Bilingual Education at Our Lady of the Lake University in 2011. For the past 15 years, she has devoted her career to working with children in different roles, including as an Early Head Start infant teacher and Head Start teacher.
Today, Gladys is happily married with four children and a grandchild of her own. Her passion for education has led her to pursue a Master’s in Early Childhood Education at Texas A&M University-San Antonio. After 40 years of graduating from PCEP, Gladys’s desire to give back to her community brought her back to AVANCE, where she now serves as a Quality Coach for the organization’s Shared Services Alliance of family child care providers. Gladys’ story is an inspiration to those who seek to make a positive impact on young minds.