Councilwoman Jamie Torres: The Neighborhood Where It All Began

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December 22, 2020

Councilwoman Jamie Torres: The Neighborhood Where It All Began

Councilwoman Jamie Torres is one of Extreme Community Makeover’s Community Partners. Jamie Torres took office as the Denver City Council Member representing District 3, Denver’s westside, on July 15, 2019.

NEIGHBORHOOD SPOTLIGHT: VILLA PARK

Jamie Torres’ roots are in the west Denver community where she and her husband currently call home. Her family moved to Villa Park in the 1960’s where Jamie has now lived for over 30 years. It is her home and the community is her inspiration.

“My Grandma, Jessie Torres and Grandpa, Roger Torres, bought their house in Villa park in 1965 with their four kids, moving from the Five Points Neighborhood. They would eventually have one more daughter after they bought the house. It needed major work – electrical overhaul – plumbing overhaul, it was in rough shape, but my grandma was so thrilled to have her own home, she didn’t mind figuring out how to fix it up and did so with DURA (Denver Urban Renewal Authority) grants and small improvements, one after another,” explains Jamie.

 

Jamie has real-life experiences with community. This helps her to relate to the Villa Park community and be a strong advocate for it!

“Growing up in Villa Park, it’s impossible not to drive down streets and be overwhelmed with memories of things that took place here and there, what you did on that stretch of road or in that friend’s house. I learned to ride a bike and a skateboard on the steep hills of 900 Lowell Boulevard. We ran through passage ways of our neighbors’ properties to meet friends or play hide and seek at dusk. My god-sister (she was baptized by my mom) and I would meet at the top of the hill off 10th Avenue, half-way between our houses, to exchange things or share notes,” shares Jamie.

Jamie’s grandma still lives in the house of Jamie’s childhood. Jamie describes, “While she is over 80 years old now, she still maintains the yard with the help of her kids and takes pride in the house being a welcoming space. If you visited her, she would immediately ask, ‘Hita, do you want a coke or a sandwich?’ And ‘Sit down, visit!'” 

“Since I was a little girl, we lived next door to my grandma in a basement apartment with my mom and sister. It was a wonderful experience living next to my grandma. She would often hang a bag of goodies on the fence between our houses – candy, bread, or other treats. I’ll always remember the joy of noticing a bag outside and running out with my sister to see what was in it,” remembers Jamie.

Jamie Torres is a community advocate and community connector to her core. Prior to being elected, Jamie spent 18 years in the Human Rights & Community Partnerships Agency (HRCP) in the City and County of Denver where she helped ensure Denver is focused on the civil rights, human rights, and social justice needs of its residents.

Jamie explains, “When you have a community, you have a network and a system that you helped build to exchange things with and support one another in times of need. When you need something, someone can provide and vice versa. What comes to mind most for me on this is how my mom had a network of other single moms who stuck together when resources were so thin. Five dollars here or there for gas, food boxes, sharing meals, babysitting, etc. But truly, when one of those women put a roof over our heads when our family became homeless, I will forever remember what community can and should be.”

Jamie is committed to representing the incredible community of District 3, advocating for key services and amenities that impact their quality of life, and ensuring the city delivers on its commitment to equity for the good of our collective future.

Jamie admonishes, “I think my upbringing gave me an appreciation for my city and all the residents I saw working hard, struggling, celebrating successes. My mom always pushed us to volunteer and modeled it herself, she supported community gardens, and worked in a school kitchen, so we were closely tied to school events. She was the block captain of our neighborhood watch program. Personally, it wasn’t until I worked part-time during grad school where I saw what my local government was doing in the community and it captivated me. I was really able to grow and explore my own activism through the city’s Agency for Human Rights & Community Partnerships where I worked for nearly 20 years before considering public office.”

One of the very important goals Jamie is putting forward is a Language Access Policy. “I started working on this with my prior office, the Office of Immigrant & Refugee Affairs, and are developing standards for city departments to follow for translation and interpretation. We’ve seen during the pandemic, that we cannot leave out anyone from hearing important messages, especially related to public health,” says Jamie.

It is such an honor for Jamie to be able to serve the families of District 3. She wants to also focus on parks improvements, safety improvements, leadership development, and so much more.

“When I see folks I work with on community projects empowered and when they tap into their own personal passion, that is such a satisfying moment,” exclaims Jamie.

The Villa Park community has a special place in Jamie’s heart. She explains, “We are a community dedicated to family, to work, to community. As a kid in Villa Park, the hills were fun for bike riding and hide and seek games and now as an adult, this neighborhood is cozy and passionate. We have talent around every corner and neighbors who want to contribute in diverse and creative ways. The neighborhood is largely housing; apart from Sheridan and Federal Boulevard, there are few commercial corridors in the interior. There are two elementary schools and small parks along the gulches which are becoming hidden gems of the city.”

If you’d like to get in contact with Councilwoman Jamie Torres, you can call her office at 720.337.3333 or email her at Jamie.Torres@denvergov.org.

                       

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