Marisol Estrada-Soto is always helping children, whether they’re her own 10- and 20-year-old sons, her new 10-month-old grandson, or one of hundreds of Meriden children in need. She chairs Meriden Children First Initiative (CFI), an organization that supports the health, development and learning of Meriden’s children.
In her work at Children First, Estrada-Soto has been instrumental in forming the Meriden Family Zone, a support network for families in a distressed area of downtown. She had a hand in helping CFI secure a $465,000 from the U.S. Department of Education to enhance and expand the Zone. A member of the executive planning committee, she is now working tirelessly to help prepare a proposal for a Promise Neighborhood implementation grant. If successful, the grant could bring in millions of dollars to improve Meriden’s inner city.
“Marisol brings an enormous amount of energy and creativity to everything she does,” says David Radcliffe, Executive Director of Children First. “Her passion and belief in the Zone has helped make it what it is today.”
“Live to make a difference!” is her motto. It appears on every email she sends. And that is exactly what she does. She puts in countless unpaid hours working toward success for all children, regardless of socioeconomic or ethnic background.
Besides Children First, Estrada-Soto also co-chairs the Meriden Early Childhood Council and the Meriden Coalition for Education Excellence. She serves on the Connecticut Early Childhood Education Cabinet as well.
Her ultimate goal? “For Meriden to become a place everyone is proud to call home.”
How long have you lived in Meriden? 31 years.
What is your husband’s name? Aurelio Soto, Jr.
What is your Job? I’m a Senior Finance Reporting Analyst for Comcast. I look at spreadsheets all day. I turn data into information for upper management to make decisions.
How much time do you spend volunteering each week? Too much! (She laughs.) On average, about five or six hours a week—more when working on a grant.
Why do you get so involved? I have a passion for helping people of all ages and backgrounds. This comes from the examples my parents set for me as a child. My father was a minister. My mother was always helping people. If someone needed clothing, furniture, a place to live, whatever, she was there.
What are your hobbies? Reading.
Where did you go to school? I graduated from Maloney High School. I have an A.S. degree in Business Administration from Middlesex Community College and a B.S. in Management Information Systems from the University of Hartford. I’m a first-generation college graduate.
What are your goals for your children? To raise my children to be aware of their environment and the impact their decisions make. And to have them think of others and help when they’re able.
What is something people might be surprised to find out about you? I would like to become a published writer and motivational speaker.
What is your advice to Meriden’s young people? Aim high. Don’t settle for less. Everyone is fully capable of achieving more than they expect.