On March 21st, Felipa Mena, co-chair of POWER-PAC, was one of five women honored by the Chicago Foundation for Women with their 2013 Impact Award for her relentless commitment to ending community violence through her work with young high school women and low-income mothers.
Felipa’s life changed dramatically 4 years ago when her twenty-year old son, Angel, was killed by street violence. While Felipa had been organizing to make life better for low-income families, this heartbreaking event impassioned Felipa to dedicate herself to stemming community violence.
Working with COFI and POWER-PAC, Felipa helped create the Wells High “Peace Center”, where Angel had attended. For three years, twice each week, she works with young women in peace circles, providing a safe place to talk about what’s happening in their lives, receive mentorship from women leaders, increase their self-esteem, and learn peacemaking-skills. Participants credit Felipa’s efforts with keeping them in school and helping them navigate relationships.
Additionally, as POWER-PAC’s Co-Chair, Felipa mentors immigrant, Spanish-speaking mothers to become policy change leaders in Chicago. She is a key leader in POWER-PAC’s Elementary Justice and Early Learning campaigns. She is also a Head Start Ambassador, going door-to-door each summer to help connect low-income and immigrant families with early learning resources.
For Felipa, all of this work is interconnected – addressing the cycle of poverty and violence that disproportionately affects women of color and immigrant women and their families.