Victoria (Torie) Colocho
Torie is an amazing individual who is always willing to get involved and help out. She has been an important part of several initiatives and is always a pleasure to work with.
My name is Victoria (Torie) Colocho and I am 18 years old. I am a second generation Latina, born and raised in Southern California and have a younger brother. I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at the age of 14. Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease where the immune system attacks the nerves. Symptoms can include vision loss, muscle spasms and weakness, pain and problems with mobility. MS is very rare in youth. My mother also has MS. Unfortunately, her symptoms are more severe than mine and she is confined to a wheelchair. Because her condition has been deteriorating recently, I now face the new challenge of potentially becoming her primary caregiver and looking for housing that can accommodate our family.
In addition to my MS diagnosis, I have faced other challenges in the past years. I was living with my father WHEN, who was a single parent that provided everything for me growing up. He was my best friend and we were very close. When I was 16, he unexpectedly passed away. This was devastating because not only did I lose my father but my day-to-day life changed drastically. I chose to live with my uncle in Compton so that I wouldn’t have to move schools. My mother lives over 3 hours away from the school I was attending, so I couldn’t move in with her at the time. Due to the generosity of 3 of my teachers, I was able to get rides both to and from school. This allowed me to complete my junior year at Schurr High School in Montebello. Unfortunately, due to uncomfortable and complicated circumstances with family, I made the difficult decision to live on my own so that I could complete my senior year in high school, where I had formed a strong support system.
Although it was challenging supporting myself at such a young age, my move to East Los Angeles led me to an unexpected opportunity. I became involved with an internship with In the Making (ITM), which is located a few blocks from my apartment. I was able to complete a 100 hour paid internship with ITM which helped me learn & gain work experience in retail. My experiences at ITM pop-up events and the boutique have strengthened my interest in becoming a business woman.
More importantly, I have participated in a wide variety of charity work while being involved with this organization. I was involved in a community clean-up in Boyle Heights, where my team and I collected 8 tons of trash. I have also helped with food distributions that were extremely needed during the pandemic. I was able to support a former staff member with a fundraiser hosted by ITM to help start her own lash business. In addition, I’ve assembled and distributed care packages for those in our community experiencing homelessness as well as migrants detained at the Tijuana border.
Additionally, a co-worker, Itzhel Mejia, and I took initiative in creating a prom for ITM staff and volunteers since we were unable to have a prom of our own due to the pandemic. We fundraised by having yard sales and selling aguas frescas. With the money we fundraised along with the extremely generous donations of a DJ, photo booth and decorations, the ITM family were able to have a safe and memorable prom night.
Once my internship was completed, ITM was still supportive in many ways. ITM gave me various items to sell online, with 90% of the proceeds going directly to me so that I could continue to support myself. ITM also set up collaboration with Diana Diaz, a local Chicana activist and business owner (@mexichiccrafts) who generously donated 14 of her hand tooled purses to me. By raffling some of these purses, I was able to raise money towards my college fund with a percentage of the proceeds going towards the @mssociety. While working with Diana and ITM, I also became involved with a collective called @thegoddessmercado, where Latina entrepreneurs from the community host monthly pop-up events at the Hilda L Solis Learning Academy. I manage and post content on the Instagram page, keep track of vendors & organize events for the Goddess Mercado.
Throughout all of my experiences at ITM, I’m so thankful and honored to be a part of something so wholesome. Although I still face new challenges as I transition to adulthood, I know the future is bright.