Dulce Aguirre Cruz: An Angel in the Community
There are many ways of making a positive impact in the lives of those in our community who need help.
For someone like Dulce Aguirre Cruz, general manager of human rights and immigrant advocacy group Border Angels, this impact can be made everyday and in a number of ways.
She says that her desire to help others comes from an early age, and remembers forming a group of friends in elementary school based around helping each other to adapt to living in San Diego and learning English after she arrived from Tijuana.
“It was then that I knew that when I was a grown up I wanted to be that person who makes a difference in peoples’ lives,” said Aguirre Cruz.
Today, this goal remains within Aguirre Cruz, who has an impact in the lives of the community around her through her work.
For the last seven years, Aguirre Cruz has worked with the Sherman Heights Community Center, where she provides tutoring and help to students who come to the center after school.
Three years ago, Aguirre Cruz remembered, Border Angels opened up an office inside the center. She said that seeing lawyers and others who came to the office to help people piqued her interest in the organization.
Shortly afterward, she would meet Enrique Morones, founder and director of Border Angels.
“When I met Enrique, he told me that the person managing the day to day of the organization was no longer with them and asked if I was interested in joining,” said Aguirre Cruz, who joined the organization while continuing to work at the community center.
“I started as a volunteer because I did not know the organization very well,” Aguirre Cruz said. “But when I saw more of what Border Angels does, I liked the projects they do and I got involved in helping out more.”
Since then, Aguirre Cruz has become an integral part of this nonprofit.
As general manager, Aguirre Cruz is tasked with coordinating Border Angels’ programs, such as holding food and clothing drives, hosting community events, coordinating fundraisers, directing volunteers, and offering legal assistance for immigrants, and much more.
With so much to do, there is no such thing as a routine workday for her. Aguirre Cruz can go from answering phone calls, to sending donations off to a shelter in Tijuana, to hosting a workshop.
“I can be in the office and never know who will come in to help someone or to request help; many things can come up on any day,” she said.
One of the programs in which Aguirre Cruz works with in a closer way is Border Angels’ day laborer outreach. This program helps workers looking for a job for the day know their rights, receive meals, and get help in case they are being abused.
Aguirre Cruz has personally taken up many cases in which day laborers have not been paid or where language barriers have left these vulnerable migrants in even greater risk.
“There are times in which I get calls from people who need clothing or that need the assurance that if something happens to them someone will help them, that’s what I am here for,” Aguirre Cruz stated. “There are cases in which day laborers are threatened with not getting paid because they are undocumented and don’t receive tax forms; so I help them fill their W9 so that they receive payment.”
Despite keeping a low profile, Aguirre Cruz’s work does no go unnoticed. In each event organized by Border Angels, Morones thanks his staff, and offers a special thank you to Aguirre Cruz.
“I’m a very shy person, so Enrique and I are like the perfect team,” she shared. “He loves talking about our causes and he always thanks me and all of our staff.”
“We always say that he is the face of the group and that I am in backstage,” she added.
For Aguirre Cruz, who personally knows what immigration is, being able to have an impact on people sharing her experiences in a new country is something that brings her pride.
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