Real Lives. Real Change.

Real Lives. Real Change. Meet Jacqueline Torres, PLTI Class of '24 

Jacqueline Torres joined United Way’s inaugural class of young parents and child caregivers completing the Parent Leadership Training Institute, a 20-week course featuring weekly training by a broad range of experts in media, government, community organizing, and much more. As a mom to an 18-month-old son, Jacqueline is learning how to effectively advocate for children’s well-being and lead and engage others in building better communities where kids can thrive. She credits the PLTI program with motivating her to enroll in college in the fall to study Juvenile Justice and Law, giving her the tools and skills to be a better role model for her child and advocate for her community, and most of all, connecting her to a network of friends and neighbors that support her and cheer her on.

At our Live United Celebration, Jacqueline shared her heart about her PLTI experience. 

Meet Jacqueline.

“PLTI is a 20-week training course that stays with us for lifetime, to me it has been a major impact in both me and my child’s life, it awoken the desire to serve and advocate for my community. It motivated me to go back to school (and actually follow through with the application process) I am now set in going to school in the fall. To my peers, this program has helped them expand their understanding on leadership, caregiving, and community. It has gifted them with the tools and skills necessary to become better role models. 
During the past few weeks, we've been learning about local government and how it works, and this has been the most exciting couple of weeks yet. We were blessed with guest speakers such as Senator Gary Winfield, superior court judge Erica Tindhill, state official Justin Farmer, and Manny Camacho. Their stories were more than inspiring. Through them I have gained a different perspective into both my son’s and my future. This whole experience has changed my mental gears, and I believe 100% that it will have a bigger impact on my future. Do not be surprised if one day you see me on the ballot running for state senator, just know that PLTI made me do it.  

Jacqueline Torres Speaking

Before PLTI, I didn't know what direction I wanted to go in life, when Covid happened I was about 3 months or so to finishing my first college semester, unfortunately the dorms had to close. And there I was with no foster parents to go to, no family to stay with. So I ended up staying at a hotel for 3 months. No breakfast food service available, not enough cash. I made the decision to get my own apartment and leave school. Now here I am 4 years later with a back-to-school plan majoring in Juvenile Justice and Law because someone has to make change. I've been let down countless times by the foster system and it's enough, I plan to be a fighter and advocate for those who have stepped in similar shoes that I have been. It's been 4 years and I have A beautiful toddler and new goals to achieve. I joined this program not knowing what I was walking into but I needed to try something new and what I discovered was a life-changing opportunity.  

This program has welcomed me and brought friends and family into my life. It has given me hope. All those losses were wins, those lived experiences prepared me for this exact moment. 

If there's one thing that I learned is that you have to go out and make things happen, these are things that I want my son to witness as he's getting older, this program has changed both mine and my son’s life for the better as the actions that I’ve been taking and will continue to take will affect both of us in the future and for that I have you guys to thank.”



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