Now, after five years of hard work, the all-female cleaning cooperative excels at operating on its own. Its members support themselves as well as an office manager - their first employee - and their co-op serves as inspiration for two other cooperatives supported by CFL: Beyond Care!, a childcare co-op, and Golden Steps, a non-medical eldercare co-op launching this month.
The impact on Si Se Puede!'s members has been profound."At first, I didn't take it that seriously because there was no assurance of success," admitted Hernandez. "[It was difficult because] when we were forming the cooperative, it took a year to start getting work. What got me through it was the women in the group and the support from CFL."Now she's seeing the fruits of her labor. "After attending meetings, meeting the women and finding out the issues, I started to become more invested," the Sunset Park mom explained. "The highlight for me is that we've gotten where we wanted to be. We're very informed on how to do quality work, to guarantee quality for the price we charge."
For single mom Irene Alcanta Gonzalez, aspiring for that success keeps her motivated through these first months of her co-op, Golden Steps, for which she was just elected secretary.
"At first, it was a really incredible feeling to be chosen out of 90 people. It gave me a feeling of value," said Gonzalez, who heard about the co-op from staff at a domestic violence support program. "I live in Brownsville [and] it's been a lot of sacrifice to balance working, taking care of my children and coming here. I want it to be successful. I believe it will work. I see everyone working hard and going to extra meetings. I hope for a good job and a just salary so that I can keep supporting my kids."