Though Ivonne Mendoza was born in Managua, Nicaragua, nowhere feels more like home to her than Toledo, Ohio. “In Toledo I feel like, ‘Ah, I’m home.’”
Mendoza’s family moved to the U.S. when she was a toddler, and settled in the Toledo area in 1997. Looking back, Ivonne acknowledges the impact the family has had on her views on volunteer-work and involvement in the community. During her senior year at BGSU, while finishing her Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice, Mendoza began interning at Lucas County’s Juvenile Justice Center. She realized that the County’s Justice Center was doing things differently, looking to approach kids and teens in a way that aligned with her own feelings.
“I’m not that whole ‘Respect me and I’ll respect you’. No, I’m gonna respect you upfront, day one. This is the standard that I’m setting, and hopefully, they (the youth that she deals with) adhere to it,” Mendoza said.
She has continued this respectful attitude and interaction with clients, approaching her adult clients in her current job as a United States Pretrial and Probation Services Officer. Ivonne is very active in the Latino Alliance of Northwest Ohio and was instrumental in creating a sub-group of the Alliance, “the Young Latino Professionals of Toledo – YLPT
for short. “
She urges people to learn about YLPT and consider joining. “This isn’t just for the Latino community. This is for Toledo as a whole! There are so many talented people; everyone should be invested and interested in helping them grow and making sure that they stay in Toledo.”
One sentence to describe me: Just a Nicaraguan girl in Ohio doing my best for the City of Toledo!
How long have you been involved with the Latino Alliance of Northwest Ohio? For the last 7 years. It was an older organization, which has been re-energized and built to what it is now… Any person in the community can be a member. They also have memberships for organizations. I also sit on the board of Sofia Quintero Arts and Culture Center.
Accomplishments of the alliance? One of the biggest things that they’ve taken over is the Diamante Awards. The four major universities/colleges – BGSU, UT, Lourdes, and Owens – give scholarships out to Latino students… here you have students receiving these accolades, these scholarships that are so important to their education and their future.
How can people reach out and join YLPT? Our Facebook page is under the name Young Latino Professionals of Toledo. Or, you can just directly email the Alliance, and we will add you to the mailing list for updates. There are also the general Latino Alliance meetings every fourth Wednesday at 5:30 pm. (Meetings currently held online via Zoom.)
A local Latino business that I want to give a shout out to: Lowrider Cafe (at 316 N Michigan), downtown right across from the main library. It’s a Mexican restaurant…really really authentic Mexican food…I always eat there!