Celebrating Latino Leaders: Enna Garcia
“I hope that my legacy shows how valuable it is to have a commitment to ensuring that all children have a nurturing and safe forever home.”
Director of Programs, 'r kids Family Center
Hometown: Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico
Enna Garcia came from a family of hard workers – and she was no exception.
“We knew we had to earn things by doing chores, behaving well and doing side jobs like selling limbers (ice cones) or plants,” Enna says. “I always was extremely appreciative of everything my parents gave me.”
Enna remembers a strict and structured, middle-class upbringing. To her father, a government worker, and her mother, a homemaker, a good education, God and family were top priorities.
“Despite the fact that we did not have much, my father made sure we went to the best schools. I went to a Catholic private school for all of my education,” Enna says. “My father always told us ‘when I depart this life I may not be able to leave you money, but I will give you a good education so you can become the best person you can be.’"
While in school, Enna took advantage of the extracurricular activities in her community and discovered her sense of compassion – and her calling.
As a Girl Scout in her elementary school years, Enna recalls that she embraced helping the most vulnerable children and their families, learning leadership and life skills and good values.
“In middle and high school, I volunteered in hospitals and participated in a club called ‘Helping Hands.’ By high school, I already knew I wanted to help others and work in the Human Services field.”
For college, Enna attended Assumption College in Massachusetts on a full scholarship, majoring in Psychology and minoring in Social Rehabilitation and Spanish Literature. There she focused her passion at a youth shelter, where she was an intern and developed a love for children’s welfare.
Building a Career
After a short time working in Puerto Rico, Enna landed in Connecticut to work at Youth Continuum. There, her interest in child welfare grew even stronger, leading her in a new direction.
“I decided to apply for a job as a Social Worker Trainee at the Department of Children and Families,” Enna says. “At the Department, I learned the importance of permanency in children's lives and my role and work was indeed essential to achieve such goals.”
Enna began working part-time with children and families at 'r kids Family Center in 2001. By 2009, she was a full-time employee and currently serves as Director of Programs. She is a highly trained expert in her field and is grateful to The Foundation for providing support for her certification through the University of Connecticut, a 2 yr program specializing in Adoption Competency. Enna’s strong and knowledgeable voice has assisted hundreds of children and parents achieve permanency; particularly monolingual Spanish speaking families; ultimately creating stable families and a stronger New Haven.
Enna is currently in the University of New Haven's Nonprofit Management Program, as part of her succession training.
“I personally benefited from financial support when I wanted to further my education. I am very grateful to PLF,” Enna says. “For us, it has been very challenging to hire Masters’ level bilingual and bicultural staff. Progreso Latino Fund is so important for enhancing educational opportunities. Recognizing the need and responding to assist us level the playing field is critical to our voices being heard. I believe leadership initiatives through the Progresso Latino Fund are so important.”