We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
The Preamble to the Constitution of the United States of America
Therein lies the beating heart of the American Dream – the notion that we the people can come together to form something more perfect.
The desire to create a brighter, more perfect future is why we, our parents, grandparents and great grandparents came to this country.
Blanca Matute arrived in the United States from Guatemala when she was only 10-years-old. Her parents, like so many before them, came to this nation for a chance at a better life for their children. They moved to the Highland neighborhood of Lake Worth – an area that Blanca chose to return to when raising her children.
“My entire family lives in this neighborhood – on B and D streets – and my kids all went to Highland Elementary,” Blanca said.
It was at Highland Elementary that Blanca became involved with BRIDGES.
“We offer so many services!” said BRIDGES at Highland director Mayi Friedlander.
In addition to a litany of classes ranging from ESOL to nutrition to birthing, BRIDGES sites also offer a variety of resources.
“We have a free notary public, a primary care clinic here once a month to discuss different types of insurance and we also provide ASQ developmental screenings to children to see if they are developing at the normal rate,” Mayi said. “If they score low on any domain, we refer the family to Homesafe for further evaluation.”
An important part of the BRIDGES mission is to promote a healthy and stable relationship between parent and child and for parents to understand that they are their child’s first teacher.
It was this perspective that attracted Blanca to BRIDGES.
“When BRIDGES opened up their program to two-year-olds, I was one of the first parents to sign up. I got excited because my kids would be in pre pre pre K,” she said with a laugh. “I knew that when it came time for kindergarten, they would be super ready.”
The mother of five children ranging in ages from 19 to 7, Blanca knew that she wanted to be an engaged, active and involved parent as soon as she discovered she was pregnant with her oldest son, Juan Carlos.
“When the kids are in school and you get involved, you learn so much more,” Blanca said. “I’m always learning how to be a better mom.”
One of the biggest lessons that Blanca has taken to heart is the importance of team work.
“It’s not just my family, “she said. “It’s my team. In my house, everyone works together. My kids understand that more teamwork means more quality time together as a family doing the things we want to do instead of doing the things we have to do.”
Togetherness is a value that both Blanca and her husband hold in high regard but they also stress the importance and value of academics.
Helping to craft this value was the mentoring program at Highland Elementary. All five of Blanca’s children have been involved in the program and in the case of teenager Eduardo, it changed the trajectory of his life. Eduardo started the program while in elementary school and his mentor was a Palm Beach County Police Officer. After spending years together in the program and fostering a close-knit bond based on mutual trust and respect, Eduardo has decided that he wants to be an FBI agent when he’s older.
“I tell my children that they can do whatever they want as long as they get a good education,” Blanca said.
This openness, understanding and accepting attitude is also found in her faith. Blanca’s belief in Christianity buoys her and she and her husband can often be found ministering to prisoners at the Glades Correctional Institute.
“We always say to be honest. Be you. Don’t be somebody else and trust God all the time,” Blanca said. “My kids are really involved in church but my 16-year-old is not ready to be baptized. Not yet, so we wait until she feels like she is ready. I want my kids to have genuine and real relationship with God. When you grow up, you get to do whatever you want.”
Blanca’s faith and the courage of her convictions inspired CP’s Vice-President of Community Services Jaime-Lee Brown.
“She’s never compromised her faith and she stands up for her children at every turn,” Jaime-Lee said. “She’s the best advocate. Our relationship is built on trust and that was vital in the development of her leadership skills.”
Jaime-Lee saw Blanca’s potential as a leader and thought she would be a perfect fit for the CP Board of Directors.
Unlike other organizations, one third of Community Partners’ board is comprised of the residents we serve.
“The presence of Blanca on the board helps all of us to stay focused on the challenges and amazing resilience of our residents,” said CP CEO Patrick McNamara. “As a parent and active volunteer who saw BRIDGES evolve from the beginning, Blanca is an integral partner in guiding our next steps.”
“Being asked to be a board member was a surprise,” Blanca said with a laugh. “Jaime told me she wanted me because I’m a parent who is super involved in the community, so I said yes! I was really nervous because I didn’t know how to be a board member. But when I started with BRIDGES, I was still learning. And now, I’m helping to teach parents!”
Despite a busy schedule of running her own cleaning business, volunteering at BRIDGES, serving on the board and ministering those in need, Blanca’s primary focus is her husband and five children.
“It’s good to know that BRIDGES is helping parents be better parents,” she said. “My parents moved here for a better future. That’s something all parents want. My kids know how much we’ve sacrificed for them. They know that everything we do, we do for them.”