We have a tradition around here of highlighting women who inspire us by crowning a Mama of the Month. Many of the MOMs we’ve highlighted in the past have been leaders of our partner organizations or board members, but we knew it was time to introduce the heart and soul of Somebody’s Mama—one of our favorite Love Club hostesses.
In February of 2015, we had the opportunity to speak with Jerome McDonnell of NPR’s Worldview in a radio interview. Agueda Semrad, a school teacher and mom from Chicago, heard the interview and knew she wanted to know more.
Agueda, or Agi to her friends, listened in her car and went to our Facebook page to comment on the interview. Agi told us, “The second you responded, I knew I needed to be a part of Somebody’s Mama. Empowering women globally—how could I not be part of something so powerful?”
Agi’s family immigrated to the United States from Mexico in the 70s, making her and her siblings first generation Mexican-Americans. Agi said that growing up with immigrant parents gave her a great appreciation for the struggles that people with limitations face. Throughout her childhood, her family traveled three days one way to visit their relatives in Mexico, and the poverty she witnessed left an impression on her young mind about how even though their family lived modestly, there were so many other people around the world who faced even greater challenges.
When Agi heard Leia’s interview on NPR, she was drawn to the idea of hosting a Love Club because she has always enjoyed bringing people together and building relationships. The idea that she could “party with a purpose” was right up her alley.
Agi recruited her friend, Kisha, to host a March Madness dinner party. A few months later, she recruited another friend, Jody, for a Halloween-themed family-friendly barbecue. Both of these Love Clubs brought in a good chunk of change and introduced Somebody’s Mama to a whole new group of people.
To this day, we’ve still never met Agi in real life (that’s a little bit crazy, right?), but we keep up with her on social media. She and her husband Pat are raising two adorable little girls, Isa and Espi. Agi tells us, “Of the many things motherhood has taught me, it is that love has no bounds. I never knew a love like this existed until Pat and I welcomed our two daughters into our lives. Raising two girls further deepens my commitment to empowering women. I am familiar with the obstacles they will face in life and the limitations that others will place on them. Still, nothing compares to the challenges of women in surrounding countries.”
We asked Agi what she learned from her own mother. She said, “I was raised by a strong mother. One of my favorite stories about [her] is how she came to be one of the top selling agents in her office. When my parents first entered the States, they worked in restaurants and later in factories. They began to make friends and engage in social functions. During one of those times, my mom shared that she wanted to become a realtor. My dad’ s friend laughed at her; he told her that could never happen. That incident fueled her to learn English, pass the Illinois Realtor Exam and, ultimately, become a top selling agent. With that being said, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”
We love Agi because she very easily could have gotten out of her car and gone about her day and thought nothing else about the radio interview. Instead, she did something. We say it all the time—doing good is simple. Without people like Agi, who was willing to do something simple, we wouldn't exist. Love clubs are and have always been the heart of what we do at Somebody’s Mama. The success our projects relies on individuals stepping up to lead and then inviting their friends to be a part of what we’re doing.
Agueda means “good,” and the diminutive Agi makes her name mean “little good.” Today we celebrate Agi for being a servant leader whose “little good” has made a huge impact on women’s lives around the world. Thank you, Agi—and we’re working on meeting in real life soon!