Thoroughbred racing horse groom, Maria Herrera wears many hats. Outside of taking care of thoroughbreds, she is mother of 11 year old Angel and a three-year BLC student. Having come from Guatemala, Maria struggled to learn English and understand and navigate essential U.S. systems like health care and education. Before her involvement with the BLC, Maria attempted to learn English at a different organization, but had a difficult time attending classes due to her demanding work schedule. Regardless, she persisted and tried to find resources for herself and Angel.
Frustrated with her inability to communicate her and her son’s needs at doctor’s appointments, teacher conferences, or simply at restaurants and stores, Maria made the decision to enroll herself and her son in the BLC’s Family Education Program where she attended ESL classes that catered to her schedule while Angel received academic help based on his specific needs. The decision opened up many doors for Maria and Angel. Maria developed her English speaking, reading and writing and Angel received the help he needed to complete his homework, improve his reading and math skills, and cultivate learning strategies. In addition, Maria found a place to help her translate paperwork, schedule appointments, and access needed resources for herself and Angel.
After three years in the program, Maria is now able to accomplish many of these tasks on her own. While she continues to attend English class and bring her son to the program for academic support, she is now able to speak, read, and write English. Communicating her and Angel’s needs in any situation that might arise is no longer a struggle, and her accomplishments have made her a leader in her own community. “Now,” she happily mentions, “I have people coming to me for help rather than me seeking out help from others.”
Maria is a testament to the hard working, dedicated, and motivated community working in one of Louisville’s most loved traditions- horse racing. The community embodies a motto held by Maria and most BLC students: Si se quiere, se puede- Where there’s a will, there’s a way.