#UrbanUpboundMothers: Luz Martinez, Mental Health and Entrepreneurship

Luz Martinez and her friend Solais Benitez started building their professional cleaning business with the assistance of Urban Upbound’s worker cooperative team in December 2019. As we all know now, a few months into their incubation period, the COVID-19 pandemic hit New York. Working on her own small business gave Luz the flexibility to spend more time with her teenage daughter. Unfortunately, her daughter began showing symptoms of depression. The Queens-based mother had to be creative in finding activities that could help her daughter regain her interest in school and improve her mental health.

The restrictions imposed on travel and social gatherings during the pandemic really affected Luz and her daughter. Without being able to meet her extended family and friends, Luz felt alone and isolated in their apartment. It was also hard for her to get an appointment for mental health services, especially with her little experience in the use of telemedicine. Instead of getting the help she needed, trying to get emotional support added to her frustration.

Urban Upbound’s Support

Fortunately, in terms of building the small cooperative business, Luz had support from Urban Upbound. Initially unsure of her English and computer literacy skills, Luz’s business began to thrive once they built an online presence. Luz and Sol’s client base keeps growing. “Urban Upbound’s staff members are really committed to the mission of the organization. I always feel supported. The team is eager to help and always determined to solve any problem that we encounter since the incubation stage of our business,” said Luz. Urban Upbound has provided Luz and Solais with technical assistance in financial planning, marketing, and governance, among other services.

With this new undertaking, Luz and her daughter are making progress. Luz’s daughter even helps out with the cooperative sometimes, especially since she is more comfortable with social media and the use of technology. Luz hopes that she can find other parents with similar situations to form a support network and connect with each other. She hopes they can share each of their stories and learn from each other’s experiences.

To celebrate mother’s day, Urban Upbound is lifting the stories of mothers and listening to their particular challenges during the pandemic. We spoke with several mothers who have benefited from Urban Upbound’s services. This past year has been hard for everyone, but for parents, they had to endure additional challenges. Follow our Instagram page to read more stories or subscribe to our newsletter. You can also donate to keep our services running for the New Yorkers who need them the most!

A collection of stories around NYC’s public housing communities curated by Urban Upbound, a non-profit organization with a mission to break cycles of poverty.