mother of four

Photo by Anaya Battle ’22

I love Allentown. I’m still here because Allentown is what you make of it, not what you see on the news. I was born and raised in Allentown, but I still needed ESOL because my parents only spoke Spanish at home. I grew up in ‘the projects’. We moved to the north side when I was about 11. My dad passed when I was 13, and I just started hanging out with the wrong crowd. I became a mom at 15. I now have four kids, my oldest graduated from Dieruff High School, the same school I graduated from. I love that my children can go to the same school I did. My second oldest is in 10th grade. Then I have one in kindergarten and a 2-year-old. I’m such a proud mom. Kids are going to make choices no matter what kind of parent you are. I like to teach my kids that your mistakes don’t make you. I get called ‘Smiley’ a lot because I always have a smile on my face. You never know what someone’s going through, money can’t buy happiness, but a smile can change something.

I wouldn’t change Allentown. It has its good and bad parts, just like everything else. Some people like to talk badly about Allentown when they leave, but I won’t. I will never forget what made me who I am. I graduated from Dieruff and went to school for childcare, then I went into nursing. Now I work for both St. Luke’s and Lehigh Valley Health Network releasing records. I get to work from home most days, which is nice because I get to see my kids more. Allentown’s community is willing to make Allentown a better place. I want Allentown to be a better place. I bring my kids with me when I volunteer. I want them to know it is good to make others feel good. Allentown is my home, my community, Allentown is what made me.  The kids in the Allentown School District need guidance. They try so hard to fit in, the kids will record these fights for attention. Back when I went to school, people would fight, and then you would see them walking together in the halls like nothing ever happened. We need more opportunities for the youth in Allentown. I want Allentown to feel safe again, and I want the people who leave Allentown to stop talking so badly about Allentown. Youth centers and other places for kids to play sports don’t exist anymore. Mountainville has a great spot for baseball and softball games, and the West End Youth Center is gone too. These kids can’t stay active and go outside to play if we continue to lose programs like this. Growing up we always had the same rule. We would spend all day outside, but once the streetlights came on, we had to be home.

Violence happens everywhere, but since Allentown has such a bad reputation everything seems worse. Problems happen in school districts across the Lehigh Valley, but they get swept under the rug. No one talks about the student who was killed by police at a Whitehall High School basketball game, but if the same thing happened at William Allen or Dieruff, we would not have heard the end of it.

Allentown is my home. Could I leave? Sure. Do I want to? No. Coming back to Allentown after vacation and trips is what I look forward to. Allentown is my home, my community, and Allentown is what made me.

Interviewed by Sara Krempasky ’23, photo by Anaya Battle ’22

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