The Origin Story
Washington Elementary Principal Maria Evans probably knew she had a difficult assignment when she was assigned to a low-income inner-city elementary school in the heart of downtown San Jose. Soon after arriving, she recognized underneath this low performing school afflicted by poverty and gang violence there was something special. It was community.
While there was a lack of money, resources, and education, there was a deep and powerful network of communal ties and strong families in this Latino neighborhood. Principal Evans tapped that power and nurtured it in a program called “Madre-A-Madre” (Mother to Mother).
Principal Evans selected community leader Maria Marcelo to lead the organization. It started out slowly, with only 2-3 moms showing up at meetings back in 2004. They relentlessly invited the mothers, and pretty soon 4 or 5 moms came, then 10-15, then 30, and eventually it grew to more than 80 moms on the best weeks.
Fifteen years later, Madre-A-Madre has gone through ups and downs, and faced numerous challenges. Nonetheless, it still thrives today under Maria Marcelo’s leadership.
Today Madre-A-Madre continues to empower, educate, and encourage moms every Thursday morning, just as it has done for the past 15 years. Each week we invite a speaker to come and present in Spanish on an important topic. We have invited immigration attorneys, physicians, mental health professionals, college and career counselors, pastors, community leaders. and prominent politicians. Some notable past presenters include San Jose Chief of Police Eddie Garcia, Mayor Sam Liccardo, U.S. Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, Senator Jim Beall, and others.
As an official ministry of Healing Grove Health Center, Madre-A-Madre’s impact has outgrown Washington Elementary, and now aims to impact the City of San Jose. Check out the photos below for a pictorial history of a powerful program!