Meet Maria Sanchez, AVANCE-Austin Alumni

Maria Sanchez and her son Moises Escobedo participated in the AVANCE Parent-Child Education Program and H-E-B Read 3 Literacy and Nutrition Summer Program in 2014.

“It is very important to me that my children lead healthy lives and don’t suffer the same fate that I do,” she laments. Maria is referring to her recent diagnoses of Type II Diabetes, which she has been treating daily with three different medications meant to control, but not cure, her disease. When Maria came to the U.S. fifteen years ago from Acapulco de Juarez in Guerrero, MX she was at a loss. She could not speak much English and everything, including large grocery chains, was foreign to her. “I still remember the day that I first walked into an H-E-B store here in Austin… I was so amazed with how big it was and full of food that I didn’t even know about.” “Back then, I would buy whatever I could afford the most of and drink a lot of soda. Me, my husband, and my oldest son soon became overweight. Two years ago, my doctor told me I had diabetes and I started to feel absolutely terrible.”   

Maria credits her supportive husband, who committed to no longer bringing home candy and sweet bread everyday, and the Parent Educators at AVANCE, who she claims “gave her hope and lifted her out of her depression.” A typical day for Maria before she enrolled in AVANCE consisted of sleeping too much, eating, and watching TV with her kids. “I did not have the drive to connect with my own children and I knew that something needed to change. That’s when I saw the AVANCE advertisement on Univision and my husband encouraged me to go.” 

Maria (left) looks on as a volunteer to Yadira, Community Health Worker Promotore from El Buen Samaritano. Yadira (right) is demonstrating how much sugar is in various beverages.

Specifically, with the AVANCE- H-E-B Read3 workshop, Maria claims she has benefited most from the informative nutrition expert, named Yadira, from partner agency El Buen Samaritano. “I know now that it is important to read the ingredients and nutrition label before purchasing a product because it makes me aware of what my kids are ingesting. Now, I buy fresh fruit and vegetables for my kids to snack on with water. My youngest son Moises has even discovered he likes broccoli! He loves broccoli!” she laughs, “and I am starting to make delicious salads with the recipes Yadira demonstrated for us in class.”  

Maria shares a laugh with her peers during a lecture.

Raised in poverty by a single mother who later abandoned her, Maria is fully cognizant of the type of role-model she aspires to be for her children. Her thirst for knowledge, optimism for the future, and willingness to adapt and change for the better is coupled with the unconditional love she has for her family. It creates a formidable force that can seemingly shrink mountains into mole-hills and is worthy of praise, awe, and recognition. Congratulations, Sra. Sanchez for being AVANCE- H-E-B Read3’s Madre of the Month, and thank you for letting AVANCE be a part of your transformation success story!

Article originally written by Karisma Tamez when Maria was honored with Madre of the Month in 2014.