Photo courtesy of Iris Lopez
Iris Lopez recalls hearing the same advice from her mother growing up, “Mija, Yes you can.” The words rung in Lopez’ head throughout her education as a Montwood High School student and graduate at The University of Texas at El Paso. They have followed her throughout her six years as a local news anchor for KVIA-TV. Now, she utters the same four words to women in the community as founder of the non-profit organization Mija, Yes You Can.
“Mija, Yes You Can, is a nonprofit organization created by women for women to provide a platform that allows all women to come together to learn from each other, relate to each other, and achieve their ambitions in life,” Lopez said.
The organization, alongside The Mija Project, aims to support other non-profits in the area, it also provides scholarships for women of all ages, creates workshops and conferences for students and professionals and provides resources for women nationwide.
Mija, Yes You Can, was launched on launched on International Women Day March 8, 2020. The organization was inspired by trying to survive in the broadcast field, a typically male- dominated business. When Lopez started her career in TV broadcasting, she realized that majority of her female co-workers were having a difficult time finding a voice in the workplace.
“I wanted to help them use their voice without being scared about it,” Lopez said. “That’s what lit the fire under me to create a blog for women, so they can share their stories with other women, because you never know how much you can relate to others until you share your experiences with the world.”
Throughout the 11 months that the organization has been around, it has accomplished various projects. many achievements. These include donating Mija, Yes You Can shirt sales to multiple local nonprofits like El Pasoans Fighting Hunger.
The organization also partnered with the University Medical Center’s Compassionate Care Fund by donating $400. Soon after, it partnered with GiGi’s Playhouse of El Paso and made another $400 donation to the organization.
In August 202, Mija, Yes You Can, held a Back-to-school Supply Drive for The Center Against Sexual and Family Violence, alongside a $250 Target gift card. Most recently, for Valentine’s Day, the non-profit created “Abrazo” packages with socks, blankets a t-shirt, to deliver to residents at Sunridge Cielo Vista Community.
Future projects for the organization, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, include branching out to other cities and have chapters across the country. Upcoming events for the organization include teaming up with Kendra Scott to have a Mija Pop- Up event to celebrate its one-year anniversary and raise funds.
In Central El Paso, there is a mural honoring Lopez that was painted as part of a nationwide competition for the Estrella Jalisco Beer company, which honors locals who are improving the lives of members in the community.
“There’s a reason our phrase is in both English and Spanish,” Lopez said. “We want to create a space where all women can come together regardless of their age, race, ethnicity, political beliefs or religion.”
Lopez’ advice to fellow female leaders is to not allow others to tell you, you are too young, old or inexperienced for a job. Lopez hopes women follow their dreams not matter how obsurd they may seem, as the obstacles in life will give people the strength and courage they need to keep pushing for their dreams.
“We are proud of our Latina culture and we want to share our culture with others, as well as learn about other women’s cultures,” Lopez said. “When strong women come together amazing things can happen, and ‘Mija, Yes you can,’ is proof of that.”
Mija, Yes you can, is located at the Outlet Shoppes at El Paso. People can become involved with the organization by visiting its website at www.mijayesyoucan.org/.
Alyson Rodriguez may be reached at [email protected]; @alyson_rod1127 on Twitter.