Hispanic Heritage Month: Edith Ornelas, Mariposas Collective Founder

Updated: Oct. 14, 2020 at 7:46 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - As Hispanic Heritage Month comes to an end WMC Action News 5 thanks La Prensa Latina for partnering with us to highlight some outstanding individuals in the Hispanic community.

For this last story, WMC Action News 5′s Briseida Holguin introduces you to a woman who is inspiring other Latinx women to create change.

“I grew up in Chicago till I migrated at the age of seven,” Edith Ornelas said.

Ornelas was born in Jalisco, Mexico and in 2016, she moved to Memphis.

“When I moved to Memphis, I saw very little community resources,” Ornelas said.

Little by little, Ornelas began to get involved in programs like Desayuno con Libros, and in October of 2018, she helped create Mariposas Collective.

“The more you get involved in the community, the more you see the needs of the community,” Ornelas said.

Mariposas Collective is a grassroots group that began helping families who had just been released by detention centers, and were traveling by bus and stopping in Memphis.

“When we came to the bus station, we didn’t come across one family, it was a family of five with around 15 children, and for me, it took me back to my own story crossing the border at the age of seven,” Ornelas said.

Ornelas says going to the bus station and meeting with the families left such an impression on her, that she made it her mission to go back and help more families.

“We started calling volunteers from the community, and it grew to the point where we had over 350 - 400 volunteers. We met anywhere from 5 - 7 buses a day from 4, 5 in the morning until 2 in the morning every single day,” Ornelas said.

Due to the pandemic, Mariposas Collective has shifted its focus to providing help to families in the Memphis community.

Ornelas says even though it took her a while, she finally established roots in the Bluff City and is happy to see she’s inspired other Latinx women to do the same.

“Things that I’ve seen since I started Mariposas is how many women here have come together from the immigrant community to support one another by being community leaders,” Ornelas said.

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