As we commemorate Hispanic Heritage Month, we wanted to celebrate not only our partnership with ParaMi but also the rich and diverse culture that this month represents. We’re excited to bring you this special feature that not only unveils our United Way x ParaMi apparel collection, but also shares the voices and experiences of Latina women from Kansas City.
Founded by Veronica Alvidrez in 2020 with Nayelly Serrano-Dantzler, Erika Reza, and Silvia Marin, ParaMi is a Kansas City’s first Latino women-owned lifestyle brand. We created an apparel line designed for our donor network, Mujeres Unidas, Women United. This line is available to shop in our United Way online store.
“I identify as Latina, Latinx, Hispanic, Chicana, Mexican-American,” says Laura Palacios, Content Marketing Specialist at Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, when asked how she identifies herself in terms of her cultural and ethnic background.
Born in El Paso, Texas as a “border town girl”, Laura is proud of her Mexican and Spanish heritage. “Being Latina to me is being an empowered women who uplifts her community, her family, and nurtures herself needs as much as those that need her.”
She recalls when she first arrived to Kansas City, she was pleasantly surprised by how tightly knit and welcoming the Latino community was here. “It felt like an extension of the familia I left behind in El Paso. One vivid memory I have is from a local community event. I attended a Young Latino Professional networking event. I was a bit nervous because I didn’t know anyone, but I quickly realized that the sense of unity and camaraderie among the participants was infectious.” She continues: “There was an unspoken understanding that we were all there to celebrate our shared love for this city, and it didn’t matter where we came from. We laughed, learned, and exchanged stories.”
When asked about her favorite traditions and cultural practices, Laura says the music, the food, and the friendships. She asks that when individuals from diverse backgrounds are curious about the Hispanic culture to listen, learn, support small businesses such as ParaMi and Monarca Art Space, and to celebrate with them.
The role of women in preserving and passing on cultural traditions within the Latino community is strong, as they represent the backbone of families and culture. “We carry the weight of our ancestors’ legacies and the responsibility to ensure they live on for generations to come.” She notes that women are the storytellers and the keepers of traditions. “Through our words, our actions, and our love, we transmit our customs, values, and rich history to our children and the community. Our kitchens are classrooms where the secrets of abuela’s recipes are passed down, and our gatherings are the stages where our music, dance, and folklore come to life.”
Hispanic women are leading by example, “showing our daughters and sons the strength and resilience that comes from embracing our roots. We teach them the importance of respecting our elders, speaking our native languages (and respecting those that don’t), and celebrating the vibrant tapestry of our culture.”
But Hispanic women aren’t just acting as preservers of culture, but are also leading in new ways as innovators by redefining the roles and challenging stereotypes. Today, Hispanic women are leaders in all communities as entrepreneurs, artists, business owners and CEOs. “We are a force to be reckoned with, and we are changing the narrative for future generations of Latina women.”