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Group helps immigrant mothers from Latin America find community

"When I think of a woman, I think of someone who is capable of doing many things whatever she is called to do," said Joyce Wyatt, the pioneer of the group.

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — A 96-year-old woman in Knoxville is helping immigrant mothers find community in East Tennessee. For 70 years, Joyce Wyatt has dedicated her life to helping women of color who face social issues.

She and some others created a group for women who feel alone, helping them find security and community. For her, empowering women is what she does best.

"When I think of a woman, I think of someone who is capable of doing many things, whatever she is called to do," she said.

As a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother — Joyce has gone through her own moments of pain. She knows the power of having a supportive community of women nearby.

"Encouraging them, and enabling them to see their value in everyone's eyes," Wyatt.  

An East Tennessean herself, Joyce witnessed the burden that immigrant women across Latin America face upon arriving in the U.S.

"Many of the women I worked with had a very low concept of themselves," she said. "Even though they were talented, and could do multiple things — they still thought they were inferior."

That led her and other women, like Anna Platillero Garlington, to create a group where mothers, sisters and daughters across East Tennessee can be united. That group became known as "Tu Dia" – meaning "Your Day" in Spanish.

She said the group supports women in search of security.

"There are women that need shelter from violence. There are women who need food stamps, obviously — the food to feed their children. Jobs," said Platillero Garlington. 

For around 11 years, they have acted as a bridge to connect them to legal assistance and food assistance, as well as English-language help. Each year, the group tackles one specific issue that mothers and women struggle with. This year, they're focusing on mental health in families. 

Tu Día will have its annual women's event on Saturday and welcomes women from all across Latin America who live in East Tennessee. It will be at Central Baptist Church in Bearden and starts at 9 a.m., and lasting until 2 p.m.

Credit: Tu Día


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