Community News - Latest

A wardrobe of their own


The six woman sitting around a table at the South Dade County Adult Skills Center in Homestead smile as brightly as any class of cosmetology students as they talk about their facial and pedicure classes. But as the conversation shifts to the roads that brought them here from Mexico, their faces darken. Ranging in age from 16 to 60, these students have been picking green beans for as long as 24 years to get to the point where they can hope to enter better paying jobs and, maybe, start businesses of their own. .

“I gave up. I stopped going to school,” says a 16-year-old whose family found themselves homeless. From being angry at the world, “I saw my younger sisters following behind me, ready to leave school like me. I didn’t want them to follow that example. Now I’m going to finish school in July and get a job.”

Under the leadership of Maria Garza, the Skills Center will not only help her graduate and learn a trade, but also dress the part with professional outfits and that special Quince gown or prom dress. Started by Garza with Homestead council woman Judy Waldman, Judy’s Closet is continually refreshed with outfits donated by Waldman’s friends from as far as Tallahassee and Tampa -- clothes worn only once or twice, or sometimes not at all, that the students can browse and take for free.

As Garza leads them to the Closet, the womens’ faces brighten again. Roxana Cardozo, who moments ago was teary-eyed over being left by her husband in a still-foreign country, holds a pastel-colored blouse to her chest. For a moment, shopping tranforms her. Her cares fall away.

Read more Community News - Latest stories from the Miami Herald

Miami Herald

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK