Delores Reyes, Site manager at Parenting Journey, grew up in Roxbury, MA in the 1960s – a time when the Civil Rights movement began to heat up in Boston. Riots broke out in Roxbury due to racial tensions and economic discrimination against Black people in Boston which left much of the neighborhood businesses and homes damaged.
“It wasn’t the best place to grow up. There were a lot of abandoned buildings after the riots broke out; so young girls playing outside were vulnerable to getting pulled into the buildings while playing outside and experiencing sexual assault or rape,” Reyes recalls.
Delores grew up in a multifamily home where she was raised by her mother; who also raised her brother and three sisters on the second floor. Her grandma lived on the third floor.
Growing up under these circumstances, Delores’ mother, a biracial woman, taught them about the power of community at a young age, encouraging her and her siblings to always stick together. “She told me and my siblings that we have to be there for each other but also taught us independence,” Delores said. “She would always say ‘times are gonna change and it’s gonna get worse and better then worse and better.”
Her grandmother was a seamstress and a cook who would use her sewing skills to teach Reyes’ and her siblings life lessons. “She would say, ‘every time you’re going to sew a hem on a dress, you’re sewing in life.’ She connected that to how we have the power to create a better life for ourselves and our family but it also inspired me to make the decision that I would always in my passion for life give someone else life,” Delores said.
Reyes’ started to notice the power of politics when she was in about first or second grade when President Kennedy was assassinated. “I remember my mother crying and I thought to myself, ‘who’s going to be the president now.’ And that’s when I decided that I was going to run for president one day. I wanted to help our country because they killed our president and he was a good president.”
“My mother always instilled in us to be a good leader and have a positive impact on our community,” she also added. “My brother was also the type of person that believed you had to fight for your rights. He would go into the riots an advocate on behalf of our civil rights.”
Delores credits her family, environment and community needs for teaching her how to navigate the political system and talking to politicians about problems that needed to be handled locally.
“Through my community work, I help people navigate the political system to get help and advocate for themselves,” she said. “I think it’s important that we stand up for ourselves, especially as black people.”
“Seeing my grandmother and mother go through everything that they went through, and being raised amongst women showed me that we have power to move forward and help others move forward because there are a lot of people who are still stuck.”
This mindset and experience that Delores adopted on behalf of her family’s experiences has shaped the work she currently does with Parenting Journey today. “I’ve seen a lot of people suffer throughout my life. I’m also a survivor of life’s challenges and traumatic events, she said. “I do this work at Parenting Journey and other human service agencies to help one person move forward.”
“My passion is very strong for helping people walk through their fears to take the next step that will help them progress.”
Knowing the power of community and sticking together, Reyes encourages the families she works with at Parenting Journey to always reach out for help when they need it because trauma is a real struggle to move through.
“I was recently telling a family about how washing your hands with cold water can ease your emotions from life’s daily stressors.” A tip she learned from her family, she said, “if you have tears flowing down your face, put your hands under cold water so that there’s friction and it stimulates your nervous system to help you stop crying. I learned that from my family and I pass it down to the families I’m working with.”
Delores has two daughters of her own who she’s passed down some of her family stories and traditions to as well.
“I’ve passed down cultures I’ve learned from my family to my daughters but I also encourage them to be their own person. I’ve taught them the basics of taking care of their responsibilities, getting a carer, and being educated but I allow them to be who they want to be so they can find joy in life through their independence.”
Want to share your #BlackFamilyStory with us? Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to join the conversation. We’d live to hear from you!
Delores has worked for Parenting Journey at two different times in her life. She worked with the Parenting Journey team as a full time trainer and facilitator for 8.5 years from 2002 to 2011. She continued working as a part-time trainer so that she could pursue a Master’s Degree in Mental Health and Expressive Therapies at Lesley University, graduating and returning to Parenting Journey full-time in 2014. This degree has enhanced her expertise of helping families in Massachusetts. Delores has a strong passion to help people who have suffered traumatic events to begin finding way to heal and become a productive member in society. She has worked in the mental health field for over 25 years and has made a significant difference in the lives of others. Delores loves dancing, exercise, yoga, drumming and theater. Most importantly she loves her family and loves to laugh.