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Jiménez, José, 1948-

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Velez, Estervina

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2017-05-10

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Although Estervina Jiménez has never lived in Chicago herself, her life has been deeply connected to the city. Born and raised in Barrio San Salvador of Caguas, Puerto Rico, Ms. Jiménez’s husband, Cordero, traveled back and forth to Chicago’s La Clark for work in the early 1950s. Many of her other family members did the same, starting and sustaining the social clubs, congregations, businesses, and other organizations that were at the core of Chicago’s Puerto Rican community. Ms. Jiménez also had several uncles migrate to Detroit during that same period in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Through her memories, it is clear that social clubs like the Hachas Viejas and other were a fundamental source of support for separated families in a strange land. These organizations also provided a way to cope with language and cultural challenges, segregated streets, and housing discrimination. Today, Ms. Jiménez volunteers in her church in San Salvador, the Catholic capilla. She delivers communion to the sick and visits and prays with them. She spends much time sitting on her porch with her husband, who is now in poor health, talking with the travelers who walk down the small path in front of her home. When someone dies in San Salvador, she makes herself available to assist in the traditional novena and helps to lead and to pray the rosary for the nine days. If there is an event or program she also helps out. In fact, she helps the priest whenever called upon and volunteers to daily to clean the church. Ms. Jiménez is a resource for the residents of San Salvador, especially in the Morena and Lao Frío sections of Caguas. Ask anyone from San Salvador and they will also tell you that she is like the unofficial mayor.

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