A grassroots, environmental justice organization based in San Francisco’s Mission District

Maria Vasquez

Maria immigrated from Michoacán, Mexico with four of her children. One child still lives in Mexico. She first heard about PODER through member Alicia Briceño. As Maria states, “She invited me out to a convivio (skill share) where I learned to make almohadas (pillows).” There she met other PODER members and Oscar Grande, one of PODER’s Community Organizers.

Maria became involved in the Action Team that investigated and shared experience with alternative economic development strategies, such as worker and community cooperatives. She was one the initial members who launched a catering cooperative with other PODER members, Maya Luna, in 2013.

After Maya Luna closed in 2014, Maria opened Las Cocineras, a social enterprise in the Mission District.

“PODER has helped me get my business started and helped me coordinate the healthy eating classes I do with folks in the community,” she says. “PODER has always been available for me and my family when we needed help.”