Welcome to the Southwest Organizing Project’s (SWOP) website. We are glad you are here. We hope this website will give the institutions, leaders, and residents of Southwest Chicago the opportunity to connect with one another, tell their stories, and build power for change in the community.
Mayra Sarabia: Inspiring Change in Our Community
For some people, every day is just living out a routine, but for Mayra Sarabia, every day is beautiful. She tells us, “Life is beautiful, I’m alive and I can do a lot of things. I’m blessed to be able to open my eyes. For a lot of people, it’s routine, but for me [each day] is an opportunity.” Mayra Sarabia, who has been a SWOP leader for the past 12 years and is currently a member of the SWOP Strategy Team, is not your average leader. She looks for the most out of life and out of every opportunity to make a difference not just at SWOP, but everywhere she goes.
She was first motivated to get involved with SWOP when her children were attending Eberhart Elementary School. She knew she wanted to be more immersed in her kids’ lives and found a way to do so through serving as a Parent Mentor. She also participated in different campaigns, like TVDL (Temporary Valid Driver’s License) and numerous immigration actions. During Mayra’s process of learning and growing she was given the opportunity to be the Parent Mentor coordinator at Eberhart. A year later she became part of the PEI, otherwise known as the “Parent Engagement Institute,” and a leader in the administration of the Parent Mentor Program. Mayra is currently a Parent Mentor trainer and organizer. Although her primary role with SWOP presently has been overseeing the Parent Mentor Program statewide, what she loves the most about SWOP is the chance to connect with other amazing and unique people on a daily basis.
Outside of SWOP, Mayra is a proud mother, of three adult children, and a proud grandmother. She is originally from Michoacán, Mexico and has been residing in Chicago for the past 26 years. She loves to honor her heritage and follow in the footsteps of her ancestors by being in touch with nature and learning more about herbal remedies. One day, Mayra would even love to live “off the grid” somewhere in Southern Mexico or Central America.
She is inspired to continue her work with SWOP and in her community because she has the power to transform lives. Mayra shares that “I enjoy doing [this work] because I see the change in people.” Being a parent herself, Mayra understands the importance of giving parents opportunities to contribute and be more engaged in their own neighborhoods and community schools.
Mayra is not only a leader in SWOP, she is a leader in other efforts as well. She completed a 40-hour domestic violence training in 2014 because she is passionate about empowering women to take control of their own lives and destinies. She loves to keep learning and is even currently learning how to make jewelry out of precious metals. Mayra is most inspired by Assata Shakur, the co-creator of the Black Panthers, who displayed strength and passion. Mayra shares that Shakur is “firme con sus valores,” or in English, “strong in her values.” If she could share anything else with SWOP readers, leaders, and organizers it would be her personal mission to “make women aware of how marvelous they are, that they can give life and create.”
To learn about Mayra’s work with the parent mentor program and her passion for life, Mayra can be contacted at email@example.com
Want to read more stories about SWOP’s work? They are all here.