Public officials, friends, family, nonprofit leaders and former co-workers gathered on Saturday at the Community Action Commission's Guadalupe Head Start to dedicate and rename it as the Maggie Espinoza Center to honor and celebrate the life of the early childhood educator, who passed away recently.
District Attorney Joyce Dudley, First District county Supervisor Salud Carbajal, Guadalupe Union School District Superintendent Ed Cora and CAC Executive Director Fran Forman were among those who spoke at the ceremony.
“In all my years of being part of special events and moments commemorating so many important milestones, this day will forever stand out for me,” Forman said.
Espinoza started as a Head Start parent while raising her four children with her husband, Raymond. She began her 40-year career with CAC as a janitor and bus driver in Guadalupe.
Eventually, she advanced to the position of regional program manager for CAC Children’s Services. In 2009, she earned her bachelor of arts degree from Antioch University, as part of the university’s first group of students from North County. That same year she was awarded Head Start Administrator of the Year by the California Head Start Association.
As Santa Barbara Superintendent of Schools Bill Cirone said, “Maggie was a true community hero in every sense of the word. Children and families throughout our community are all the better because of her dedication and excellence. She was a gift to all of us.”
To honor her love of gardening, the staff of the newly renamed Maggie Espinoza Center are planning a garden to keep her memory alive. The Orfalea Foundation, Guadalupe Hardware and PanAmerican Seed Company are helping to plan and build the garden.
— Elizabeth Lee represents the Community Action Commission.