Community Leaders

Angelita Valdez

Angelita Esperanza Valdez, LMSW, CAADC, RPT is an innovative CEO and Founder of Servicios de Esperanza, LLC, inspired by creating new programming to meet the counseling needs of children, families and adults in Muskegon and Oceana counties. Angelita has a clear vision to make Muskegon a better community.  Her team is focused on making clients feel at home in the warm and inviting counseling practice.  Angelita’s passion and energy is contagious. Her team of clinicians continue to build strong reputations in the foster care world, probation world, and within the community

Servicios De Esperanza, LLC, a private counseling practice, was formed on March 28, 2013 in Muskegon, Michigan. Today, there are thirteen employees serving in 3 office locations within both Muskegon and Oceana Counties.  Servicios De Esperanza, LLC prides itself on having culturally diverse clinicians who are sensitive to individual and family needs by providing non-traditional appointment times, bilingual services (in both English and Spanish) and flexible locations. Servicios de Epseranza, LLC specializes in trauma from providing Play Therapy and Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) to children and Substance Abuse Therapy, Anger Management Classes and traditional counseling to adults.

In 2019, Servicios de Esperanza, LLC partnered with different agencies to bring Outpatient counseling services to the Spanish speaking community at free or low-cost fees. In keeping up with the needs of the community, staff have also been trained in providing Spanish Language Secretary of State Substance Abuse Evaluations for those appealing to have their driver’s license reinstated as well as being trained in writing Extreme Hardship Waviers for families going through the Immigration Legalization Process.

 

Elva Barajas

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My name is Elva Barajas, I am the bilingual/migrant director and ESL teacher for the Bangor School district in Bangor, MI.  I was born in Chicago, IL.  My family migrated to Bangor, MI when I was in middle school. I graduated from Bangor High School and attended Western Michigan University where I earned a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and Spanish. Later, I earned a Master’s degree in Bilingual & Multicultural Education with an emphasis in ESL from Northern Arizona University.

My parents are originally from Morelia, Michoacán. As a child, I lived in Morelia for a few years and then returned to Chicago. I did not speak English and had the school experience of any English Language Learner trying to acquire a second language. My parents struggled in the big city and this brought them to try other means of work. We migrated to Yakima, Washington to pick plums and then we migrated to Michigan specifically to the Van Buren County to pick blueberries, cherries and apples. 

The love for my job began when I worked as a student intern for the VBISD migrant program in Lawrence, MI. I saw myself in a lot of the children I worked with and realized they needed a Hispanic role model and mentor to guide them along the way. Shortly after graduating from Western Michigan University, I was fortunate to come back and work for the Bangor community. This community has changed demographically since I was young.  Now, 35 % of our students in Bangor are Hispanic. I am in my 15th year working for the Bangor Public School district and I cannot be happier to serve the community where I spent part of my childhood. 

My biggest accomplishments have been helping students’ graduate high school, help build the migrant program in Bangor, continuing the Hispanic Student Association and being selected in 2016 by my school district as a teacher of the month and also receiving a Valued Viking Award. In that same year, receiving a Distinguished Service Award from Michigan State University’s Migrant Student Services and in 2017, I was a recipient of the Van Buren County Education Hero Award. Last but not least, is marrying my fiancé Eugenio Aleman, also a teacher for Bangor Public Schools.

 

Dale Freeman

I grew up in mid-Michigan as the child of farmworkers who met in Lakeview, Michigan and settled out.  From an early age, most of my friends in our small farm town were either other children of settled out migrants or friends whose families returned every year to harvest cucumbers and apples.  While pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in International Relations from Michigan State University, I began my career with what is now the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) with a summer job as a Migrant Assistance Payments Worker in Northwest Michigan, helping migrant families attain food and medical assistance.  After graduating, I was promoted to year round employment and performed a series of jobs in the assistance payments sector.  After receiving my Master’s Degree in Social Work from Grand Valley State University in 2000, I served the Department in several administrative posts.

In 2014 I was appointed the Director of Migrant Affairs where I have overall responsibility for the department’s migrant programs, oversight of the state’s nine regional migrant resource councils, and am the chair of Interagency Migrant Services Committee.  In my four years in the position I have advocated for the return of categorical eligibility for migrant child care, expanded the department’s emphasis on providing outreach to migrants, and established Spanish fluency standards and testing for the department’s migrant program managers and staff.  I also oversaw the expansion and implementation for migrant and seasonal farmworker families of the ACA-related Medicaid program, the Healthy Michigan Plan.  This implementation resulted in a 16% increase in the number of migrant and seasonal farmworker family members receiving Medicaid Services. 

I appreciate the work that local migrant outreach workers do to help farmworkers and look forward to the summer months when I attend migrant camp outreach and local farmworker appreciation events.

 

Reyna X. Masko

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Reyna Xiomara Masko was born in San Salvador, El Salvador. At the age of 8 she and her family immigrated to the United States leaving behind their native and war-torn country. In 1994 she graduated from Robert E. Lee High School but due to being undocumented, she was not able to attend college. In 1998 she moved to Michigan in 1998 with her husband, Paul, to raise a family. She has 2 children, Kylie age 20 and Mikkel age 15.

In 2005 Reyna’s dream of going to college became a reality after becoming a US citizen. She earned her Bachelor of Science from Ferris State University in 2013. She has worked for Ottawa County Friend of the Court for 18 years, and has been in her current position as an investigator enforcing custody, parenting time, and child support for the past 5 years.

In 2013 Reyna was appointed by the Ottawa County Administrator, Al Vanderburg, as chair of the County’s Cultural Intelligence Committee (CIC). The mission of the CIC is to promote and grow a culturally diverse environment where all employees, residents, and visitors are valued and welcomed. The goals of the CIC are to educate employees about implicit bias and increase awareness of social injustice and its effects, to improve fair and equal treatment for all, to enhance the county’s reputation as welcoming to all, and to equip employees to resolve social justice issues.

Through her work with the CIC Reyna has become an advocate within the Latino Community. She serves on the Board of Directors for the Lakeshore Ethnic Diversity Alliance (LEDA) and is a member of:  LEDA North Initiative, Steering Committee of the Lakeshore Latinas, Latina Network of West Michigan and Sisters Who Lead. In September of 2017 she was appointed to the Human Relations Commission by the Mayor of the City of Grand Haven. Reyna is also the Children and Youth Coordinator at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Grand Haven, where she is also a member of the Latino Ministry, El Corazon. She was named as a 2017 Athena Award Nominee for her community service and advocacy.

 

Guadalupe Antonio Cruz

 

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My name is Guadalupe Antonio Cruz, but everyone calls me by my middle name “Antonio.“ I currently work with The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) as a Migrant/Seasonal Specialist based in Ingham County.  I serve Ingham, Eaton, Jackson, Livingston, Clinton, Oakland, and Shiawassee counties for the State of Michigan.

I have 12 years of experience working in the United States in fields related to migrant and seasonal farm work. My specialty is to provide Migrant/Seasonal farmworkers with the understanding and support needed throughout the various stages of their lives. My passion for this kind of work started in 1999 when I arrived at Hart, Michigan as a migrant worker.  After a year of my arrival, I took the initiative to set my future goals which started with me obtaining my HS diploma and eventually earning my bachelor’s degree in Behavior Sciences & Health Human Services from Ashford University. I am currently working to pursue my master’s degree in Information Technology (IT).  I have devoted about 90 percent of my time and experience to working with Hispanic communities around the State.

Aside from my work in state government, I am also the owner of Cruz Control Fitness in Okemos, Michigan. The purpose and motivation for this fitness program is to combat obesity in families and children in my community. I am a certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor devoted to extending my fitness career by being mentally, emotionally, and physically prepared to provide my clients with the best health practices available.  I promote family and community engagement in fitness activities by adopting a healthy lifestyle and creating happy futures.  My work has impacted various communities in the Central/Mid-Michigan region like Okemos, East Lansing, and Lansing.

I am also an active primary volunteer with the Capital Area Migrant Resources Council, the Latinos Hispanic Health organization, and other agencies in the area. I created a nonprofit organization called Cruz Control Health development which focuses on providing accessible behavioral and mental wellness support to communities in need.

I am a frequent keynote speaker at private and government events around the state. I like to speak on behalf of the involvement of local governments and organization to the promotion of equal opportunities for minorities groups such as Hispanics, Chinese, and Indians in issues relating to economics, physical wellness, behavioral health, and Fatherhood Initiative.

I live in Ingham County with my wonderful wife and my two children.  I identify with the following quote: “Your imagination is your preview of life’s coming attraction.” -Albert Einstein

Education and Credentials:
Bachelor’s Degree:  Ashford University
Community Partnership Certification: Training Institute of Tennessee
Social worker Certification: Wisconsin Institute of Social Work
Small business Certification: Ingham entrepreneurs
Fitness & Nutrition: AFFA, AFSA, Zumba LLC

To read the complete HOMTV Article please follow this link.

 

Jesse Costilla

Jesse Costilla

Jesse Costilla has a family of nine brothers and sisters and is the son of Armando and Juana Costilla. His parents began their migrant life back in 1988, where they traveled from San Juan, Texas to Michigan to work in the fields harvesting a variety of crops. In 2000, Costilla began his career at Great Lakes Bay Health Centers or formerly Health Delivery, Inc. He began as a bilingual translator/ phone receptionist and slowly climbed the latter until he was assigned Migrant Program Manager in 2012.

Costilla viewed this opportunity as a way to return to his roots and give back to his community. He manages to travel from city to city with medical and dental buses to the fields. Jesse understands that these workers will not come to these services even if they are doing back breaking work, so he is committed to taking the services to them. His dedication is far beyond an 8-5pm shift, he is out at the camps until 10 pm even possibly 1am.

Jesse admits that his job is not easy. However, he understands that this population is crucial to our environment and that is what keeps him there. His motivation is that he knows these are the people who are harvesting our crops as he enjoys buying Michigan potatoes and apples. Costilla believes that the best way to express his gratitude is to ensure that these farm workers are healthy so that they can continue doing their jobs.

Costilla has also been trying to develop partnerships so that they can continue providing these affordable services. He shares that many local businesses and organizations have accepted the initiative to support our migrant community.

 

Aurora Sauceda

Aurora Sauceda

PERSONAL: Born in San Sebastian, Texas. Daughter of an undocumented mother who worked the fields of Arkansas, Indiana, Ohio, and Illinois. Lived across the border in Nuevo Progresso, Mexico with grandfather for the first 6 years of my life and then was adopted by my uncle in 1959, who brought me to Flint, MI, where I have resided for most of my life.

EDUCATION: Baccalaureate of Science from University of Michigan – Flint with a major in Social Studies and a minor in English.

EMPLOYMENT: Worked for Genesys Regional Medical Center, formerly St. Joseph Hospital for 27 years. Took an early retirement in 2000 and went to work for Lear Corporation for 8 years. In May 2013, was hired by Hope Network – Connexion as a Prevention Specialist and during tax season, I work for H&R Block and have been for 12 years as Tax Specialist. 

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Community Coordinator for Latinos United for Flint, member of Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church Parish Council, City-wide Advisory member, Community Foundation of Greater Flint Small Grants Committee, and member of Michigan State University Flint Center for Health Equity Solutions Consortium.

LUFF -Latinos United for Flint is comprised of several organizations, agencies, non-profits, and faith based institutions who are working together to assist the Hispanics/Latinos, documented and undocumented, in Flint during the current water crisis. We have established a strong working relationship with United Way, Community Foundation of Greater Flint, U of M – Flint and Ann Arbor, Salvation Army, EPA, DHHS, MDCR, GHS, OLASW, ALPACT, immigration attorneys, doctors, nurses, and many other supporting organizations. To date, with the assistance of our ever-growing network, we have been able to translate documents, assist with immigration issues, take patients to the Free Clinic, offer counseling, and inform individuals of their civil rights.