Pictured above (left to right): Leila Aviles; Eva Balogh, ESOL Advisor and Simon Cruz
Simon Cruz and Leila Aviles came to Community Action, Inc. in search of greater opportunities. They left with a strong command of English, and a group of classmates and teachers who showed them compassion, support and a renewed spirit.
Simon and Leila moved to Haverhill from Puerto Rico three years ago. Life in Puerto Rico was difficult due to a failing school system, high unemployment rates and little opportunity. They moved hoping to secure living wage jobs and improved educational opportunities for their three children. Their strong work ethic and determination led them to entry level employment. A manager who recognized Simon's management potential told him to work on his communication skills. Leila needed to improve her English speaking skills.
They came to Community Action where their advisor Eva Balogh and teacher Gene Schmidt worked with them over the course of a year. Eva helped Leila improve her interviewing skills which helped her get a job at Macys. Simon said of his advisor, “Eva is a good person. She likes to help people.” During that time, Simon was hired by a company that contracts with local Home Depots to set up their grill and patio departments.
Simon worked hard, both studying English and at Home Depot. His managers soon realized his skill sets and his improved communication and leadership skills and promoted him to department supervisor. He was able to hire Leila to assist him and now they manage the assembling of grills and patio sets at five local Home Depot stores.
They often return to Community Action to help staff and educators with new student registrations as their way “to give back to the people who helped us.” Simon and Leila translate registration forms for new students, answer questions and share their story of success and promise. Community Action educators gave Simon and Leila the tools they needed to succeed. And they now have the greater opportunities they were seeking when they first came to CAI.