With Help from Mama
updated 08/15/2005 AT 01:00 AM EDT
•originally published 08/15/2005 AT 01:00 AM EDT
Ramirez is one of more than 100 immigrants who've gotten help from Sandi Romero, 50, a former housing activist who runs a job-training program in her restaurant, Mama's Hot Tamales Café. "After losing my husband, I wanted to help other women," says Romero. Drawn to the café by social service referrals, about 30 participants at a time spend a year working in the café and taking free business classes. Graduates go on to open their own restaurants and Romero often loans her own money to help get them started. That, she says, is only the beginning. "I help make immigrants' dreams come true," she says. "And help them have a voice."