Born in San Diego to a Native Mexican American and a Mexican Immigrant, Mercedes spent her first three years in the Chula Vista barrio. In 1993, her family relocated to Paradise, CA, where she later enrolled in Kindergarten at the local parochial, St. Thomas More Catholic School, and remained until graduation. A background in Roman Catholic ideology got me volunteering at a very young age, starting by working the game booths in 2002 at Johnny Appleseed Days. It was then that she decided she’d like to someday be the mayor of Chico.
In 2004, her family detoured toward Red Bluff, and two years saw her bussing tables for Splendid in the Valley while attending Mercy Catholic High School. As her life experience progressed, she found herself determined to move back to Chico and become more involved in Vocal Performance, Ballroom Dancing, and Community Theater. Her last two years of High School were spent reading textbooks cover-to-cover out of HomeTech Charter in Paradise, with Shasta and Butte College courses concurrently.
In 2007, she travelled to Eastern Australia as a Student Ambassador with People to People. Upon her return, she endeavored to remain local and invest time in her community by registering for the Honors Program at California State University, Chico, where she was accepted on a full scholarship. The summer after graduation Mercedes travelled to the People’s Republic of China with a close friend native to the area, where she stayed with their friends and families for 3 months, visiting both big cities, tourist destinations, and what can only be described as desolate rural villages. One week after their return, they found a cheap apartment on North Cedar Street and she started her Freshman year of college.
While at University, she participated in Community Action Volunteers in Education (CAVE), became involved with the and founded the Karaoke Club on campus. She pursued a Bachelor’s in Philosophy, declaring a double minor in Ethics, Justice, & Policy and Sustainability and earning a spot on the Dean’s Honors’ List for two semesters in a row. She was hired on as the Personal Assistant to the Head of the Honors’ Department before filing for a leave of absence to spend more time with her family.
In 2010 she began work for the ARC of Butte County as a Respite Care Provider at the request of a theater acquaintance who has since come to be known as a cherished personal friend. Mercedes continues to offer aid and support to this family and the beautiful young girl who lives with Epilepsy, Cerebral Palsy, and Autism while she gradually transforms into a young woman.
A brief stint in the California Conservation Corps earned her distinctions and a scholarship with AmeriCorps for total volunteer hours logged (over 250 in 2012) and a promotion to Acting Crew Leader. During the harsh 2012 California Fires, she was motivated to earn a Class-B Commercial Drivers’ License and passed with a perfect DMV Score, helping to coordinate support for Firefighters and HotShots at the Sites-Complex and Colusa Fairgrounds Supply Camps. It was during this time that she began active involvement with the Stream Team Citizen Water Monitoring Project and the City of Chico’s Park Watch Volunteer Initiative; her volunteer status with these organizations is active to this day.
In the fall of 2012, she chose to extract her passions from the CCC and began studying the Korean Martial Art of Tae Kwon Do under Grandmaster Farshad Azad. Spring 2013 brought with it an age of increased inner reflection and the integration of T’ai Chi Ch’uan into her ongoing practice. She reached out once more as a volunteer usher and concessions worker to local theaters and resumed her interest in vocal performance. This network eventually led her to an invitation to serve as the youngest member of the Board of Directors for the Theatre on the Ridge in Paradise. She has since accepted the role of Secretary for the 40 year Non-Profit.
As April 2013 began, she found herself writing again and seeking ways to learn. She jumped into local efforts to study and increase food security in Chico, especially in unincorporated Chapmantown. She was hired as the Assistant Market Manager for the Certified Farmers’ Market and with the North Valley Community Foundation as an independent contractor for the “Cultivating Community” grant. At the same time, Mercedes was creating much of the original paperwork and forms for the Downtown Ambassadors, working under the model of Bill Such, training new volunteers, and attending City Council Meetings.
At the end of 2013, Mercedes detached herself from her role in Chapmantown and stepped aside to make way for a new direction in the Downtown Ambassadors. She chose to postpone the pursuit of her own personal dreams and interests when a new business in Downtown Chico requested that she assist them in establishing their family restaurant. Although initially declining the offer, Mercedes eventually agreed, with the understanding that she would not be a simple employee, but an equal partner and member of the family — one day managing that particular venue while the couple opened other restaurants.
2013 was just start of three years of broken promises… However, in February 2015 she reconnected with her soul-mate.
By the end of July of 2016, Mercedes turned 26 and wasn’t happy with her professional life. She worked harder than ever, but the return was almost nonexistent. The professional relationship at the restaurant had deteriorated along with the hours. She could no longer financially support herself or emotionally tolerate the strain of the work environment. She had to make a change.
She quit her job and filed paperwork to run for City Council.
August 1st 2016 Mercedes started a new job as an early morning BARISTA 😉 and was brought on as an intern for the CA Urban Streams Alliance. She resumed her position as a Respite Care Provider with the ARC of Butte County and her passions for Ballroom dancing, social activism, and vocal performance.
Back to volunteerism and promoting community engagement!