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Meet Evelyn Peña of Deaf Latinos y Familias Organization in South LA

Today we’d like to introduce you to Evelyn Peña.

Evelyn, before we jump into specific questions, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
My name is Evelyn Peña and I’m a mother of three, two boys and a girl. My oldest son, Richard, is Deaf. My middle son, Darlin, has severe Cerebral Palsy and my daughter, Heaven, was born at six months old. Being a young mother I was not well informed on how to raise a Deaf child or where to get help. Seeing my child slowing detach from our family, I started going to college to become a Sign Language Interpreter, to better communicate with my son, make money as well, and fully study Deaf Culture.

With me being a stay at home mom, putting me through college, all my lil side jobs, and now me being President of DLyF, all that would not have been possible without the support and guidance from my best friend and husband, Wilson Anthony Peña!!

 

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
I graduated in 2018 at El Camino College with an Associate in Arts Degree in Sign Language Interpreting and another degree in General Studies in Cultural & Communications Studies. I thought, “this is it I’m going to make money” but the struggles began. My middle son, Darlin, is wheelchair-bound. As a Freelance interpreter, you get to set your own schedule and that’s all grand but when you have a child that requires your full attention, that gets put on hold. My signing got rusty since I didn’t have much ASL practice. But you’re asking yourself, “You have a Deaf child at home?”. Yes, I have a Deaf young adult at home but when he’s not around much and hangs out with friends, yeah you don’t get to practice.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Deaf Latinos y Familias Organization – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of and what sets you apart from others.
That’s where Deaf Latinos y Familias Organization comes in. Deaf Latinos y Familias has been around for ten years and officially became a nonprofit organization March of 2018. I had been a participant within the organization but became fully involved three years ago to keep up with my signing and have my son, Richard, be a part of his Deaf Community. In 2017, I was appointed Vice President by Mrs. Irma Sanchez. In June of 2018, she took a leave of absence and I became President.

At DLyF, we work with Latino families of children in DeafEd and Deaf Adults as we integrate family history, traditions, and values into their lives to bridge the gap between two different cultures/languages/worlds. We offer a free weekly family American Sign Language class. By targeting the acquisition of ASL, families’ are able to share traditions, family history, and juicy family gossip! We encourage the community to attend in order to better prepare them to become greater advocates for their peers and children. We also offer workshops where we teach the importance of family unity and how to build and strengthen the relationship between Parent and their children in DeafEd.

I’m super proud that the Latino Deaf community is getting so much recognition and it’s way overdue!! I don’t believe our organization sets us apart from others because our Goals, Mission, and Outcomes are the same, to support families raising their Deaf children and encourage all others to do the same. There is no competition, by working together, we can ALL make a difference.

All this would not have been possible without my beautiful children and the support and guidance from my best friend and husband, Wilson Anthony Peña!!   With me being a stay at home mom, putting me through college, all my lil side hustles, and now me being President of DLyF, he has been my Rock!

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
Our plans for the future is to have our own building where we can host our FREE ASL classes, teach trade workshops to our young Deaf adults that have been done wrong by LAUSD and have them learn skills to obtain employment, have trained family Mentors to teach parents how to become better advocates to their children in DeafEd and just to continue to grow. Big changes? We’ll just have to wait and see.

Contact Info:


Image Credit:

The folklorico, mariachi pics, sage ceremony, image of event with booths are from Lynn Morán, founder of Warrior Photography.

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