Why SOCUE Was Founded

Our organization has always been committed to community outreach for issues such as AIDS, sexually transmitted infections, domestic violence and reproductive health rights. When our founder, Belinda Garcia, built the very first program in West Denver in 1989, it was an immediate response to her then-job as a teacher in a local Spanish-language school. In the organization’s first ten years, she personally funded the entire SOCUE operation.

“Two of my boys [at the school] got AIDS and died, and I just couldn’t do it anymore,” Garcia told Westword in a 2012 interview . “So I had to do something else about it. And when I started Sisters of Color, the first woman to enroll in our program already had AIDS, too. It never seemed to end.”

After losing her husband followed by her toddler-aged daughter and 9 year old son in other tragic events, Garcia moved briefly to Nicaragua, where she lived with a community of Sandinistas while dealing with her pain. She brought what she learned there back to Colorado and shared that knowledge to train other leaders in her network. SOCUE’s goal has always been to help heal hearts using the knowledge of ancestral healers, so almost every one of the original program titles had the word “corazon,” in them.

“When I traveled, I was pretty much suicidal,” Garcia vulnerably shared with Westword. “But I got up the next morning and cooked and prayed and smiled and cried and just continued,” she said. “I survived and I learned that my community could, too, with my help.”

SOCUE Founder and former Director, Belinda Garcia

Today, Sisters of Color United for Education reaches hundreds of people in Colorado and with the help of both public donations and city grants, what began as a handful of Promotoras has grown into a substantial community of leaders who provide services including yoga classes, acupuncture, massage, body talk, and more. “We will continue to act as ambassadors and social workers to Denver’s people of color until we make that connection and people can understand that this is a giant family,” Garcia said. “It took losing mine to realize that — and to start a new one.”

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