Adelante names Mendoza new executive directorWritten by Jay Hathaway | | email@example.com
New opportunities are often the reason people leave their native countries and settle in the United States. Guisselle Mendoza is one of those people, and she now dedicates her time to giving others in her community their own access to new opportunities.
Mendoza was recently named executive director of Adelante, a community services center located at 520 Broadway St. Adelante’s primary focus is offering an array of social services to members of the Toledo Latino community.
Mendoza worked for 10 years in customer service before joining Adelante six years ago, after she answered a personal calling to go into nonprofit work.
“If you have the ability to create change, do it — the rest, leave up to God,” Mendoza said.
Mendoza, a Toledo Public Schools and Owens Community College graduate, was born in Nicaragua and has lived in Ohio for more than 20 years.
“My family came to the USA to give us a better life. It sounds cliché, but we are truly living the American dream,” Mendoza said. “We are members of a wonderful community. We give back to the community that has helped us be where we are now.”
Mendoza is the oldest of three sisters — Karla is a registered nurse and Ivonne is a probation officer for the juvenile court — and said the rest of her cousins are all working for the city, county and nonprofit organizations, fulfilling the wishes of a family matriarch.
“My grandmother’s dream was for all her grandkids to do better and give back, and we are doing that,” she said.
Mendoza began her work in Adelante’s early literacy program. After four years, she was called upon to serve as the director of programs and services, a position she held until her recent promotion to executive director.
“It’s [a job] that I’ve somewhat been doing for the last eight months or so, but now it feels real,” Mendoza said of her new title.
She said the support she has received since her official promotion has been a welcome surprise.
“Folks I don’t even know are congratulating me,” she said.
Adelante was formed in 1995 by a group that had been working in a local drug rehabilitation and prevention center. They perceived a lack of available resources and services for Toledo’s Latino community, so they founded Adelante. The group soon realized the community was in need of other areas of service as well and programs geared toward domestic violence prevention, education and literacy were offered.
Adelante, which means “forward” in Spanish, prides itself on the variety of services it offers, from pregnancy through other life stages, Mendoza said.
“Adelante moves the community forward,” she said. “Our big focus is education, empowerment and strengthening the community.”
Mendoza said many Latinos have more barriers than the average American, including legal, transportation and language issues.
“We try to kind of be that third party or helping hand, so they can better their lives and their families’ lives,” she said. “It can be a one-stop resource center, if people take advantage of it.”
Mendoza said because of the language barrier that often arises, Adelante offers many of its services in Spanish. She said this is one of the many opportunities she is proud to offer others.
“My first language is still Spanish, and I have a passion for what I do,” she said.
Moving onward in her new position, Mendoza said securing funding is one of her main concerns, but she is confident that other organizations in Toledo will continue to lend support. In turn, Adelante will continue to pay it forward.
“Without God’s mercy, I would not be where I am now,” Mendoza said. “I am so thankful and blessed to have the opportunity to serve my community. I am looking forward to the years to come.”
For information about Adelante, visit www.adelantetoledo.org.