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  • Grecia Mannah-Ayon

Transform Partner Mujeres Empresarias Tomando Acción Brings Local Knowledge to Community Organizing in San Jose




The Mujeres Empresarias Tomando Acción (META) Co-op was founded by a group of women who have taken their role as community leaders and organizers to the next level. META partnered with Transform to do outreach as part of our SPOT SJ initiative, helping the City of San Jose do a more in-depth community needs assessment by leveraging its deep roots in the local area. 


SPOT SJ is a nonprofit and private partnership working to create more community space and housing by reducing a glut of underutilized parking in San Jose. The goal of the initiative is to support a more vibrant and dense urban core with a wide range of mobility options, leveraging innovative technology and community engagement. META is a crucial partner in our community engagement efforts.


We talked with two organizers from META, Aracely Sierra and Giselle Mendoza Abonce, about the organization and its work in the community. The interview was conducted in Spanish. Leer en español.


Empowering themselves, empowering their communities


Sierra is one of 11 advocates at META, and Mendoza Abonce is part of the marketing committee and also facilitates the group’s activities with children. Both are committed to the group's mission to be the bridge between families in the community and organizations advocating for community benefit. META advocates are deeply embedded in the community; when groups like Transform partner with them, it helps overcome distrust and creates connections that bring more services to local residents. “We are a bridge,” Sierra said.


META was founded by a group of 17 women and focuses on empowering women and helping them build businesses. The group’s focus is community. “We help the community to have a voice and feel comfortable,” Mendoza Abonce said.


It’s very satisfying to plant a “grain of sand” in community transformation. “While we are transforming ourselves, we are transforming the lives of others,” Sierra said, noting that youth look up to what the Mujeres are doing.


Mendoza Abonce noted that Socias de META started as volunteers. They launched a business in the South Bay in 2018 to contract with other organizations to provide outreach, facilitate meetings, and offer childcare. The group has contributed to the success of a variety of projects, including a survey about the San Jose water supply conducted in Spanish and Vietnamese.


Gathering input for Five Wounds Urban Village housing development


Transform enlisted META to conduct survey outreach on travel patterns in the Five Wounds Urban Village area. The group was able to return a high percentage of completed surveys in a short period of time. Mendoza Abonce noted that having organizers fluent in Spanish was key to their success. Beyond sharing a language residents are comfortable in, Sierra said that prior connections and how META approaches people are key to having the trust needed to make people feel comfortable. 


“It’s also our neighborhood,” Sierra said. “When I walk around here, I love to say hi to everyone.” Those relationships made people willing to take the time to fill out surveys.


META also drills down in its contracts to make sure there is a definable community benefit. They ask, “What are we bringing to the community?” Sierra said. “We want to always have that trust, that credibility.”


Sierra noted that connections are vital to META’s work and being able to advocate for their community. The group’s philosophy is to operate with clear intention, build trust, speak with truth, bring empathy, and put themselves in others’ shoes. Mendoza Abonce said that centering connections and relationships were key to META’s success.

 

“We do everything with love and empathy,” Sierra said. “We want healthier communities where everyone has a voice.”

1 Comment


Steele Nickle
Steele Nickle
26 minutes ago

Mendoza Abonce noted that Socias de META started as volunteers drift boss

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