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10 Questions: Foundation helps Latino parents foster stronger bonds with kids

Beatriz Villarreal, Ed.D. created the Mano a Mano Foundation, a nonprofit organization, to provide support and education to the Latino community to help parents prevent their children from becoming juvenile delinquents. The foundation’s doctrine promotes the involvement of parents in their children’s lives, therefore stimulating success in school, pursuing a college education, and achieving the American dream.

Villarreal graduated from the University of San Diego in 1986 with an MS degree and received her Ed.D. in 1989. She has worked with the Latino community for more than 27 years, providing educational workshops, counseling, community resources and information aimed at the prevention of juvenile delinquency, gangs, drug/alcohol abuse and violence.

Furthermore, as the director of a counseling program for eight years at San Diego’s Juvenile Hall, she designed the first program to provide support groups, individual counseling and education to parents and youth on probation. Throughout San Diego County she has developed various community-based educational programs for parents and their youth who are at risk of entering the juvenile justice system.

Question 1: What brought you to Encinitas?

I have been an Encinitas resident since 1990. After looking at more than 80 houses around San Diego, the first time I saw my home, I said “this is it” — this is where we were going to live forever! We found the perfect Encinitas home to raise a family. My daughter was 4 months old when we moved from Mission Valley. We love our neighborhood and our neighbors. My son was born and raised in Encinitas. We can say he is an Encinitas native.

Question 2: If you could snap your fingers and have it done, what might you add, subtract or improve in Encinitas?

I’m fortunate to have a bit of experience getting involved in my community, and what I’ve learned is that it is extremely easy to roll up your sleeves and start contributing toward the change we all want to see. Opportunities both big and small abound. Many times, all you need to do is show up. Encinitas is the perfect city to get involved in. We are very lucky to have local non-profit agencies with volunteer opportunities. However, if I had a wish, it would be that I would open a drug rehabilitation center to provide residential and outpatient services to youth and their families. We are in such a great need, and unfortunately, we do not have enough organizations to help with this enormous demand.

Question 3: Who or what inspires you?

Providing support and education to our Latino community inspires me. I feel an enormous responsibility to help our families. They are my passion; they inspire me every time they graduate from our programs. We are here for the same purpose, to achieve the American dream.

Question 4: If you hosted a dinner party for eight, who (living or deceased) would you invite?

I would invite 10 year old Natalia Lopez Lopez and her parents. She is indigenous to Veracruz, Mexico and gave a wonderful speech to 100 Mexican congressmen and senators about how our family values are at risk of becoming extinct. She is the perfect model of a well-educated, secure and proud girl. You can find her speech at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v5sIaFESQ9Y.

I would also invite Mother Teresa of Calcutta. She is my hero! She said: “Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.”

And Pope Francis. He is a transformational leader who once said: “A little bit of mercy makes the world less cold and more just.”

Another guest would be my father, Rogelio Villarreal. He passed away 10 years ago. He was one of the smartest people I have ever known. He was the perfect father, son, husband and brother.

I would invite my cousin Jose Baston Patiño. Even though he is a very important business man, he is always willing to support his family and friends. He is an exceptional role model for all of us who know him. He is the president of television and content of Grupo Televisa. I think he will bring very interesting conversations among my guests.

Finally, I would invite my husband Jorge Jiron. He is a very dedicated husband, dad, son and brother. I think he also will have the best discussion and conversation around the table.

Question 5: What are your favorite movies?

My favorite movies are: “The Count of Monte Cristo,” “Shawshank Redemption” and “The Passion of Christ.”

Question 6: What’s the most challenging aspect of what you do?

A big part of my work is to refer families to community resources. Sometimes it is very hard to find drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs for youth in San Diego. The majority of the programs have an enormous waiting list and they will not admit a client if he or she is not willing to receive help. So sometimes we need to refer families to Tijuana where they will provide services to youth.

Question 7: What’s the most rewarding?

The most rewarding aspects of my job are to see families graduating from my parent programs and observe how our information really makes a difference in their lives.

Question 8: What do you do for fun?

I love to walk every day. Where I live has great walking trails and I can see the ocean and the beautiful Encinitas scenery. Also, I love to cook; it is my therapy.

Question 9: What is it that you most dislike?

When I have to work in the South Bay or in the south San Diego county, I have to stay in traffic for around two hours It is a waste of time for me. I love to work there, but I hate the traffic.

Question 10: What do you hope to accomplish next?

I am working on my book. It will be a guide for parents to become better parents. It will be done by May 2016. Also one of my dreams is to teach at the University level. Having 28 years of experience working in the community, I think is my responsibility to share with students all the things I learned though out these years. One day I know for sure, it will come true!


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