Betty Medina Lichtenstein: Community Outreach
Betty was born and raised by Puerto Rican parents on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, and moved to Massachusetts with her husband Sam in 1978. She began work in the medical field and went on to provide legal assistance for Holyoke residents living in substandard conditions. She came to realize the importance of high quality education as a means to break the cycle of poverty, and it became a passion for her.
Betty ran successfully for a school committee seat in1985 through a grass roots community mobilization effort that included the Rainbow coalition. This election made Betty the first Puerto Rican Woman elected to public office in the State of Massachusetts. Her election put Holyoke on the political map in this State and neighboring states. She served as Holyoke’s Ward 2 School Committee member for a total of nine and years.
Betty has worked for Baystate Medical Center, Mass Migrant Program, Centro Latino de Holyoke, HAP (Housing Allowance Program), and Nueva Esperanza and for the past 23 years she has been the Executive Director of Enlace de Familias Inc. Enlace operates under the oversight of a Board of Directors who are both residents and professionals that support and value the mission of Enlace de Familias Enlace has been the founder of the Holyoke Youth Task Force, the Holyoke Community Charter School and Holyoke Unites/Holyoke Se Une.
Betty is known in Holyoke for her grass roots community organizing efforts in the poorest neighborhoods around issues of equality, 100 % Graduation and social justice. She has assisted tenants organized in some of the public housing projects in Holyoke as they reestablish Tenant Associations, sanitary code enforcement and community development. When asked where she gets the energy to continue her efforts, her answer is always the same: being part of the Puerto Rican community in Holyoke. She wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.