But this mother of five wasn't confident with her English and figured it was a dream that wouldn't come true.
Then in 2013, the Salina woman enrolled in the first class of Circles of the Heartland, a local organization that helps families find a way out of poverty and a poverty-based mindset to achieve economic stability.
"I was just by myself before that," she said. "I thought no one cared about me."
After completing a course last year from May to September, Padilla has grown in confidence and is developing a plan to start her own business soon.
A major boost for Padilla will be the opportunity to cater a Circles of the Heartland fundraising event: "Circle of Friends: Great Food, Great Music for a Great Cause" on
The event, which begins at
Admission to the meal and concert is
A silent auction, too
A silent auction will begin at
Proceeds from the dinner, concert and silent auction will go toward Circles of the Heartland programs, said
"The program keeps growing, and we want to keep it going," she said. "It's definitely been a community effort."
Now in 60 communities
Circles of the Heartland is part of the National Circles Campaign that has been implemented in more than 60 communities in 23 states. The program matches those in poverty, called Circle Leaders, with community volunteers, called Allies, who help them move from limited resources to greater financial and often emotional stability.
The organization recently celebrated its first year of working with participants and Circle Leaders, and the result has been impressive, said
"There are a lot of success stories," she said. "One gal got her associate degree, and one is getting her bachelor's degree. One is getting ready to go back to school and another is wanting to start her own business."
Humbled by the support
The program currently serves 18 local families from its first two classes and will begin a new class
Martin said she is humbled by the outpouring of support for the Circles of the Heartland program, both by community allies and those in the community at large.
"I'm very thankful we have a good base of community members who understand our purpose and want to reach out and help us," she said.
The rest of her life
Martin said Padilla has come a long way since she enrolled in the program.
"Her dream was to own her own business," Martin said. "She's been working at the Kitchen for Hire at the Masonic Center with
Padilla said the fundraiser will be a great opportunity to show off her cooking skills with native Mexican dishes.
"This is not only a good opportunity now, but for the rest of my life," she said. "I couldn't have done this if (Circles of the Heartland) didn't find resources for me and set me on the right path."
WHAT: "Circle of Friends: G Great Food, G Great Music for a Great Cause," a fundraiser for Circles of the Heartland
INFORMATION: For more information on Circles of the Heartland programs and classes, call 827-6731, or look them up on
(c)2014 The Salina Journal (Salina, Kan.)
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