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Difference Maker: Bianca Ochoa

A lifelong resident of Eagle County, a wife, and mother of 4 children, Bianca Ochoa has dedicated her life to serving her community and raising the voice of her neighbors.

Bianca, a first-generation Mexican American, did everything she could to better her life, including speaking openly about mental health and seeking help, which is often taboo in her culture. She discovered that the services available in our community were not suitable for non-anglo populations. She wanted to do something about the lack of mental health resources because the resources and services supplied did not affect everyone equally.

Bianca viewed this as an opportunity to speak up, make a difference, and seek to find advocates in our community who could help meet people's needs. The Family Leadership Training Institution was one of those allies, a fantastic resource for people in our community who want to make a difference. Bianca earned her certification and used the training to become a leader in the head start community, assisting moms with educational possibilities such as the fantastic year's courses. She served on the Head Start and Early Head Start Policy Change Council. Bianca also assisted in the facilitation of support groups for mothers of disabled children.

Bianca is a single mother who understands how difficult it can be culturally to focus on one's own mental health. She believes that Hispanic women prioritize everyone else and put themselves last and wants to change this. She emphasizes that "you matter, and it is not selfish to put yourself first," and that "pouring from an empty glass is not sustainable."

Lifting each other up is one way we can help solve this problem. Bianca is passionate about meeting the needs of the community by providing safe spaces for people to connect authentically. She is so convinced of this that she recently became certified as a peer support specialist.

Bianca leads many support groups for Hispanic women, including the Aprendiendo Juntos (Learning Together) Women's group, which is brought to you by Mountain Youth with the help of amazing partners and financial supporters, Eagle Valley Behavioral Health. Throughout the summer, this women's group held six educational sessions on various topics. These included banking basics, financial independence, mental health basics with stress-reduction tips and tools, and improving well-being and learning tools to create healthy relationships with your partner and children.

Bianca's life experiences have strengthened her desire to help others. As a result, she took the lead in the discussion about healthy relationships. She discusses how much of a difference this type of education would have made in her life. "The more we educate our women, families, and children, the better off everyone will be," Bianca says. That is why she is doing as much as she can to help other women; she wants to provide women with the resources and education many haven't heard or seen.

Bianca Ochoa, Leslie Martinez, and Diana Loera have been the leader of these women's groups from the start and say that this group is often hard to leave at the end of the night and the women who attend feel the same way. The women's group is a safe space to share experiences, learn the information they might not have access to, and connect with peers. Bianca says, "Women have told her that these groups are life-saving." They hope to keep developing curriculum based on the needs, information, and resources the women of the community need. So that they can not only survive but thrive, enjoy life and focus on self-care.

Amy Baker, Family Education Manager who works closely with Bianca, believes she is passionate about our Spanish speaking community in the deepest way. She is tireless in her pursuit to provide support and to educate herself on the most effective practices to promote that change. She is an asset and a gift to any organization she is involved with.

Bianca truly is one of the most passionate people we have ever met. Bianca's leadership, compassion, heart, and passion, have changed countless lives in our community and will continue to impact more.

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