While in Sacramento, the mothers went to their state capital with their hearts on their sleeves to plea for the safety, protection and welfare of their children. Ever since then, MELA has been unceasing in their dedication to protect their community from other harmful projects, but have also lend their support to many other struggles. MELA has been nationally recognized as an environmental organization that has been given credit for the defeat of several environmentally threatening projects. Among these projects was the Vernon incinerator and the Chemclear plant. These projects, although presented as environmentally sound, were too dangerous and too close to our community.
In 1995, our then Chief Financial Officer Aurora Castillo, was awarded the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize. Each year, this recognition is given to six environmental heroes, one from each of the six continental regions. Each recipient received a sculpture and a $75,000 award funded by the Goldman Environmental Foundation. The prizes are awarded for sustained and important efforts to preserving or enhancing the environment.
The State of California awarded MELA member Lucille Ramos with the “Women of the Year” award in 1986 and Aurora Castillo with the same award in 1989.
In addition to latter awards, MELA has also received various other awards and recognitions. In the spring of 1989 they were featured under an article called “Environmental Racism” in the issue of The Amicus Journal. In 1992 California Legislature Assemblywomen Lucille Roybal-Allard presented a Resolution to the MELA organization for their outstanding work against the prison and against other hazardous projects such as the Angeles proposed oil Pipeline project, and the Lancer Vernon Incinerator. MELA has also been featured in many local and statewide newspapers for their environmental fights, MELA has also been a leader when it comes to bringing about positive community projects. An example of this is the Los Angeles Neighborhood Initiative ( LANI) project. MELA is a member of the AD Hoc Committee, and works in conjunction with the Boyle Heights Chamber of Commerce, Hollenbeck Youth Center, Benjamin Franklin Library, Councilman Nick Pacheco’s office and with joint forces they assist in obtaining much needed public improvement projects in a targeted Boyle Heights commercial corridor. In addition to LANI, MELA has also recently been credited with helping to bring Salesian High School in Boyle Heights a scholarship worth $50,000. A project that is also under MELA’s credit is the establishment of a local Meat Market that’s mission is to raise money to fund youth scholarships as well as to give much needed employment opportunities to local families. The cost after the project completion, in 1999, came out to $100,000.
MELA’s current members consist of over 50 community residents, which actively meet at the end of each month. When needed, MELA can gather up to 300 community residents to assist on environmental issues, which affect the East Los Angeles community.
Without doubt, one of MELA’s most prized accomplishments is the completion of an 8-unit development in an unincorporated area of Los Angeles County. The project was envisioned as a way to help alleviate the severe lack of low-income housing. Along with County of Los Angles assistance, several low-income families have been able to purchase new homes. In addition to the latter 8-units, there is also a 2-unit project that has also assisted low-income families in need of a home. As a result of their first housing projects, MELA established a Home Ownership Center. The Mothers of East Los Angeles Home Ownership Center provides the community with much needed information and resources that help them purchase a home. It is hoped that programs such as these will help provide families with ownership opportunities within the Eastside of Los Angles, thereby creating a more stable quality of life for our residents and our children. Our hope is that MELA can continue to help our community by developing different projects that will help improve the area of East Los Angeles.