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My Success Story

A homegirl from East LA, the girl with the big dream

By Berta Canales
Published on LatinoLA: April 11, 2003


My Success Story


THIS IS MY TRUE STORY HOW I CAME ABOUT TO PORTLAND OREGON. IT'S BEEN TWEVLE YEARS NOW, SINCE I MOVED HERE, ALL BECAUSE MY MOTHER AND DAUGHTER DIED AND MY BROTHER CHOSE TO COME UP HERE TO TRY TO MAKE A LIFE SINCE IT WAS CHEAPER TO LIVE HERE. I CAME ONCE BEFORE TO VISIT HIM BUT GOT SCARED AFTER SEEING SO MANY WHITES, MY IMAGINATION WENT WILD THINKING THAT MY KIDS WOULD NOT BE SAFE HERE, SO I LEFT WITHIN THREE DAYS. LATER MY SISTER DECIDED TO MOVE HERE SINCE THE HOMES WERE CHEAP. I WOULD TALK TO TO HER ALMOST EVERYDAY AND SHE WOULD SAY HOW BEAUTIFUL THE SKY AND NO SMOG. BUT THAT WASN'T WHAT CONVINCED ME TO MOVE. IT WAS OUR HOUSE PAYMENT. WE WERE BARELY PAYING THE INTEREST. THE LOAN AMOUNT KEPT GROWING INSTEAD OF GOING DOWN. WE COULD NOT AFFORD, EVEN A CHEESE BURGER FROM MCDONALDS. THAT MEANT MONEY TOWARDS A GALLON OF MILK, IF YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN . WHEN MY BOYS WENT TO THE PARK EVERY WEEK IT MEANT THAT THEY WOULD PICK UP CANS. FIRST, THEIR DAD WOULD BE BESIDES THEM. THE MONEY THAT THEY WOULD COLLECT WOULD BE FOR SOMETHING THAT THEY WOULD ALL AGREE ON. ANYWAYS OUR LIVES HAVE CHANGED. HARD WORK AND MOVING HERE HAS MADE US NO 1 IN THE STATE OREGON FOR OUR FOOD. WE WERE EVEN IN A MAGAZINE CALLED SUNSET, WHICH CHOSE US FOR THE BEST BURRITOS IN OREGON. RIGHT ALONG WITH THE TEPEYAC, YOU KNOW, THE HOLLENBACK BURRITO MANUEL SPECIAL IN EAST LOS ANGELES. THERE WAS ONE RESTURANT FOR EACH STATE AND MY FAMILY IS PROUD TO BE IN THAT MAGAZINE THAT CHOSE US. EVEN THOUGH WE HAVE A SUCCESSFULL BUSINESS I AM STILL THAT SAME GIRL FROM EAST LOS ANGELES, I HAVENT CHANGED. I DON'T EVEN THINK OF MYSELF ANY BETTER THAN MY FELLOW HOMIES. I BELIEVE WE ALL ARE THE SAME. WE ALL BLEED BLOOD IF WE ARE CUT. AND THAT WHY I VISIT MY HOME OF EAST L.A.AND HELP THE ONES IN NEED. NOT FOR GLORY BUT THE FACT THAT I WAS ONCE THERE AND KNOW WHAT A LITTLE HELP WOULD HAVE MEANT FOR US IF SOMEONE HELPED. I THANK GOD THAT I HAVE SURVIVED AND HAVE BEEN ABLE TO BECOME WHAT I AM TODAY. LIKE I SAID BEFORE, MY HEART IS IN EAST L.A. AND I HAVENT FORGOTTEN MY ROOTS. I WOULD LIKE TO FIND A COUPLE OF MY LOST FRIEND WHO LIVED THERE. ONE OF THEIR NAMES WAS WAS ERNIE ALVARADO WHO LIVED ON TOWNSEND IN EAST L.A. WHO HAD A DREAM LIKE MINE. I WOULD LIKE TO TELL HIM IT CAME TRUE AND I WOULD LIKE TO SHARE A LITTLE WITH HIM. I HOPE HE CAN READ THIS SOMEDAY OR MAYBE SOMEONE WHO KNOWS HIM CAN TELL HIM TO LOOK ME UP. BERTA, EAST L.A. THE GIRL WITH A BIG DREAM.

About Berta Canales:
BERTA CANALES, PORTLAND, OREGON




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