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Esmeralda Espinola


WCCDA Narrative Series | Thirteen

DEC 2022

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Image by Mauricio Cuéllar

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I love White Center, and I wish that the government could pay more attention to us like the way they do with Seattle or Burien.  

I am a resident here in White Center. I have been living here since I immigrated from El Salvador in 2003. I came here because of my aunt, but I stayed because of the community. People come from all over, and everyone helps each other. For example, soon after coming to White Center, I joined an ESL class at South Seattle College. The very next day, people in my class helped me get a job at Subway. When my kids go to a new school, people tell me things I need to know about the new school. When people grow vegetables, they even bring them to share with me. People in our community take care of each other. 


I have seen positive changes in White Center over the years. There are a lot more Salvadorean/Latinx businesses than there used to be. Before there were only Castillo and Salvadorean Bakery. I also feel safer now walking down the street, especially on 16th street. I love that we now have 2 libraries instead of 1. But we still need access to more resources and opportunities, especially because the cost of living and housing continues to increase so quickly. I am seeing a lot of newer people moving into White Center. It is good that they are spending money here and helping the local economy, however, existing families need better-paying jobs. Without higher-paying jobs in White Center, we are not able to afford to live here. Many of my friends have moved to places like Puyallup because the housing price is more affordable there. Some people travel far for work.

Image by WCCDA

Currently, I am a full-time caregiver, taking care of my 2 kids who are 13 years old and 5 years old. My youngest is starting school this year. My oldest is attending Rainier Prep. He was at White Center Heights, but we moved him in 5th grade because he struggled with the larger classroom sizes and did not have enough support for his special learning needs. I am immensely proud that he was finally able to meet his academic goals and be at the same level as his peers now. But I also wish that public schools like White Center Heights have resources to support all children in our community.  

I met Elsa from the White Center Community Development Association at the Play and Learn when my 2nd child was 9 months old. I attend both the Spanish and the multicultural Play and Learns because they really help my children with learning about their own culture and language as well as other cultures and languages. When they are older and attend school, it is important for them to experience and respect other cultures to get along well with others. I appreciate the White Center CDA for having programming like Play and Learn that supports our community, especially our children.  

Besides being a caregiver, I am also taking classes. I have already completed high school in my home county, but I need a refresher to help my kids with their education. So, I am currently enrolled in a high school program. I am also taking sewing classes for fun through a Latinx community organization. My goal is to open a house and business insurance company White Center in 2-3 years. I know many people from my community who want to open a business, but they do not understand and do not know how to. If I learn about insurance and the process, I can help my community. Many people do not understand why they need to pay insurance for their cars or houses. And when they lose their property due to some unfortunate event, they end up having nothing. For example, I have a friend who bought a house with cash. Three years later, they had an accident, and the house was burnt down. They did not have insurance, so they lost everything. So, I want to support the community in being able to protect themselves, their house, and their business. I will be able to explain to my community in our language so that they understand.

Image by John Schnobrich

To start my business, I will need a license, money, and a place. Opening a business is going to be challenging; however, I know that my community will step in to help me because that is just how our White Center community is. But we need more support, and I hope that our government will also be more involved in supporting our community. My older son wants to attend aviation school nearby and so our plan is to stay in White Center longer. But with the cost of living, especially housing, we have considered moving away. But I love this place. I love the area. It is close to everything I need. So, I hope that I will not have to move away.

End of Narrative

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