This month Border Eco features a woman in our community who has for several years dedicated herself to public service. She is a real-life warrior who has faced many challenges in her life but still continues to move forward. She has dedicated herself to helping women victims of domestic violence in Santa Cruz County have the resources they need to lead safe productive lives. She is an advocate for victims of domestic violence. Mercedes Castro is the lead case manager/director for Nuestra Casa/Our House women’s shelter for 9 years. She too was a victim of domestic violence and understands many of the challenges victims of domestic violence face. “It can be very scary for victims. You have no clue what the future holds,” said Mercedes Castro. Nuestra Casa/Our house aims to empower victims of domestic violence by connecting them to those resources that will help them to continue with their lives.
Mercedes Castro was raised in Hermosillo Sonora, Mexico by her grandparents. At the age of 15, she came to Nogales, Arizona to live with her parents and four siblings. She graduated from Nogales High School in 1983. Shortly after graduating high school she married and had her first child, Dulce who was born with cerebral palsy.
Mercedes Castro as a young mother faced a big challenge as therapeutic services were not locally available for her daughter. She would take her daughter 3-4 times a week to Tucson for therapy. Shortly after she enrolled her daughter at the Santa Cruz Training Program here in Nogales, Arizona. She began working there as a volunteer, and was later offered a job by Mrs. Coppola to work there. Her marriage to Dulce’s father soon came to an end. She later remarried and had two more children. Mercedes acknowledges domestic violence as being a factor of both failed marriages. “I had to make a choice for me and my children. It is never easy to end a marriage but exposing children to this type of abuse can be very traumatizing. I made the final choice to move on ,” said Mercedes Castro. Mercedes Castro is highly recognized as a great community leader always willing to help families in need. She has been recognized and awarded several awards for her work in the community.She was diagnosed with lupus but still continues to work hard to help families move forward. Mercedes Castro is a mother, and proud grandmother of two. She is and continues to be a warrior regardless of the challenges she faces everyday. She is an inspiration to many.