Irma Perez was working for Meals on Wheels as a social worker when she was diagnosed with macular degeneration. The loss of vision led to her retirement. Nonetheless, she remains involved in Fort Worth community life with volunteer activities. One of the pieces of advice she has for young women is to "not allow others to define who you are." And, "Always respect yourself and others and you will be respected."
Esperanza "Hope" Padilla Ayala was born and grew up on Fort Worth's north side, where she still lives. In her mind, a strong Latina "embraces her community, gives back to that community ... understands her responsibility to promote hope, idealisms and assist others in defining their future." Well into her eighties, she still lives by those tenets; she remains involved as a volunteer at her church and with an organization called The Goodfellows. She's passed on those ideals of community activism to her three children, who are also deeply involved in their community. She has nine grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
Rita Rodriguez-Utt recalls a childhood of poverty. Not just financial poverty, she says, but "poverty of opportunities, expectations, language and role models. ... It was being told in Junior High School that you were not college material and sent to the technical school. It was the lack of counseling in high school to prepare you for college. It was the desperation to pull myself out of the cycle of poverty without any bootstraps."
In spite of all that, this mujer poderosa graduated from high school and became a licensed vocational nurse. At the age of 38, she went to law school. She practiced for 25 years, and is now retired. Among the things she enjoys doing is helping her husband with his antiquarian book business and watching over her great-grandson.
She founded and runs three Fort Worth businesses--a roofing company, a waste disposal company, and a real estate company. This is one busy woman and has a curio cabinet full of awards attesting to her business acumen. Sandra McGlothlin is a role model for getting things done!