Maria Murillo | DIHGLA Cohort 3 | IBWPPI

Maria Murillo

Passionate, Hard Worker, Patience

      My name is Maria Murillo. I am 58 years old, and I was born in Cali, Colombia. I am the youngest of 6 siblings, and we were raised by a hard-working father and a doting mother who did not have the opportunity to attend school as a child, but when we were young, she attended school to learn to read, write, and continued to educate herself. This caused me to realize at that moment that anyone at any age can return to school and further their education. My mother taught us to be creative and go after the many opportunities available. I saw in her how passionate and caring she has always been with her neighbors and friends, which is why I believe it instilled in me my passion for working and assisting the community,  especially the homeless.  

I currently live with my husband, son, daughter, and dog. Born in a country that was affected by the trafficking of drugs and corruption, which gave me the gift of passion for wanting to fulfill my love for community outreach and assist those less fortunate. I came to the USA about 38 years ago, lived in NJ for 20 years, studied as a teacher assistant in NJ, and worked in a daycare for 10 years. I also studied English and Psychology at Bloomfield College in NJ.

      I moved to Florida approximately 15 years ago and started working as a substitute teacher at Orange County Schools. I had the opportunity to work with the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition for 5 years as a Latino Outreach Organizer for Osceola and Polk County.  My duties as an organizer established a chapter meeting once a month, having a one-on-one with the new members, and having a follow-up to keep them engaged, and informed. Furthermore, I scheduled and participated in events such as resource and job fairs. The organization changed my way of thinking about the community in the way it taught me to care about others, especially people with past convictions. They paid their sentence with the system, but they still pay in society, which, I believe, is very unfair to a formerly incarcerated citizen and their families. This is why it brings me the passion to work for the community. I like to connect and bring resources to people who want to move up and have a dignified life.

 With this, they can have good-paying jobs, go to college, and live in nice neighborhoods, so their children can attend good schools, neighborhoods, and lifestyles.

   As a community leader, my goal is to help end the homeless, and formerly incarcerated individuals and bring them the first step to successful re-entry back into society. I plan to create an alliance with other good organizations that care about community issues and want to help solve the problems and bring jobs, education, and more opportunities.

    Through this program, I would like to learn more about how to lead, organize, manage and build leaders to make the system better for formerly incarcerated citizens.

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