This summer Maria G. Van Core, Action Greater Lansing board member and president of Greater Lansing Area chapter of Labor Council For Latin American Advancement, LCLAA, nominated ACTION organizer Aida Cuadrado for a labor-community partnership award. She is a local and national leader on immigration issues.
What is your current involvement with Gamaliel/Action of Greater Lansing?
Greater Lansing Area LCLAA Chapter was inducted in the Nehemiah Public meeting last year. Our involvement is working together on Immigration, educating the community on what is happening and knowing what to do in case an undocumented person gets detained.
How did you get involved originally?
A LCLAA member became involved with Action of Greater Lansing and the Civil Rights for Immigrants, CRI campaign, in her church. She recruited our chapter to become involved and learn about immigration. As U.S. Citizens, many of us had no idea of the hardship it happens to undocumented families.
What are some of your recent accomplishments with Gamaliel/Action of Greater Lansing?
Greater Lansing Area LCLAA Chapter joined Action of Greater Lansing on the Introduction of Ayotzinapa43-Missing Students. Also we joined together at our Lansing City Council and presented a resolution to make our city a “Welcoming City” to the Children of Central America. And we got together and did a rally in front of Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette’s Office asking him to remove his name from the lawsuit.
You recently nominated Aida Cuadrado for an award from the labor community. Why are labor-community alliances important in your mind?
It is important to me and my chapter that we unite as a community. Many who are not in a union will think that our activities are only for union households. With Aida, we have a connection that has helped us communicate clearly on issues that are important for everyone to understand and become involved.
What are you currently working on?
We just finished doing a fundraiser for two scholarships to high school graduates in May, and we are gearing up for National Voter Registration Day. We are preparing to do nonpartisan literature drop as the Lansing City Council is preparing to have elections. I was just invited to help plan a Hispanic Heritage Month gathering for area Latino organizations.
How do you want people to view you as a leader?
When I was recognized as a National LCLAA Women’s Leader last year, I was humbled to receive the award. I look at myself as an informative person. I try to get information and present it to my chapter members, and together we try to make the best of it.
Can you talk about how your faith has inspired your leadership position?
I was baptized Catholic, but we grew up going to different churches. I strongly believe in Jesus Christ and God. Believing in them and the Ten Commandments has helped me be a better person. My main goal is trust. I am honest with people. If I can’t help, then I will tell them. And in my own time, if it’s in my conscience I will try to find resources for them.
Say a little more about yourself— your family, personal background, etc
I was born in Corpus Christi, Texas. My mother brought us here (we were 5 children at home, but we are 11 kids) to Lansing, Michigan when I was 15 after Hurricane Celia. My eldest brother and his wife invited us to live with them and made Lansing our home.
I graduated and was pregnant, and in turn my mother kicked me out of the home. I was with my father for a few months, but that didn’t work out due to his wife not wanting me there. So I was homeless until another family took me in. They helped me get established. I have never forgotten them.
I was on general assistance and then welfare with my daughter. But during those 2 years I went to Lansing Community College to get an education. So I never just sat home and got food stamps and money for my rent. I was trying to make a difference. I applied at General Motors and I was fortunately hired in.
I was married for 10 years, and then divorced. I had married my daughters’ father and we also had a son. I have two grown children and one grandson. I recently remarried. We had been living together for 20 years. I was just afraid to get married again.
I retired from General Motors on disability in 2007. I injured my back, but I had 30.3 years seniority when I retired. Before I retired, I was involved with my UAW Local 652 Civil and Human Rights Committee. I was recording secretary, then vice chair. And presently I am involved with UAW Local 652 Women’s Committee at my local and the Women’s Council with my Region 1D.
I am also a member with MI AFL-CIO Committees: Labor Council for Latin American Advancement Greater Lansing Area Chapter; A. Philip Randolph Institute Lansing Chapter; State of Michigan A. Philp Randolph Institute Chapter, State Recording Secretary; Coalition of Labor for Union Women, Capital Area Chapter; Michigan State Voices. I recently got elected to the MI AFL-CIO board member as LCLAA Representative.
I enjoy what I do. I try to help when I can. It keeps me busy. I guess I’m real busy now since I have retired, but I have to cut back a little and spend more time with my family!