Stories From Washington – The Road to Dani’s Cleaner
Veronica Alvarado was born in Zacatecas, Mexico, as the eldest of 12 siblings. She moved to the United States in 2001 with four goals in mind: go to school, find a job, reunite with her family, and build a better life for herself and her daughter. In 2002, with a vision of success in her mind, Veronica made a move to Walla Walla, Washington with her family. The eastern Washington town is home to just over 30,000, a robust agriculture market, and the location where she first began taking English and GED classes.
As an immigrant to the United States, Veronica faced considerable hurdles in both adapting to a new culture and defining her path business. “The main obstacle I faced as an immigrant to the United States was the language barrier.” Despite the challenges weighing her down, she earned her GED and gained a supporter along the way: Maria Remington. Maria, an instructor at Mercy Corps Northwest, introduced Veronica to the variety of business programs available to entrepreneurs and helped encourage her to pursue her business idea.
With 7 years of experience working for a cleaning company, her GED, and a partner in Mercy Corps Northwest, Veronica finally saw that her dream of starting her own cleaning business was no longer something of the future. “After talking with Maria who led me to MCNW, I was certain this was the opportunity I was waiting for and that this program would help me achieve my dreams.” Veronica then enrolled to earn a small business grant, requiring her to save $84 a month for six months with the promise of a $4,000 in matched funding. After months of planning, accounting, and developing new business skills, Veronica had earned the know-how and funding to turn her plan into action. “When I finished the last Business Foundations class and received my check, I felt like my dream came true. All I needed was a spark of motivation and some guidance to make it happen.”
In 2019, with the support of a $4,000 grant from Mercy Corps Northwest, Veronica’s hard work and determination paid off and she officially opened her own cleaning business: Dani’s Cleaner.
As she reflects on the process, she remembers where it all started. “It was hard for me to believe I would get a $4,000 grant after completing the six-month course. I really had to motivate myself to take that first step forward and trust Mercy Corps Northwest – I’m so thankful I took this step.” The funds she received offer her the ability to buy larger cleaning equipment for her business, and fuel for daily work travels.
Veronica uses organic cleaning products keeping in mind their benefits for people who are sick, those who have small children or animals, and to help our environment. Dani’s Cleaner only serves residential houses, but she hopes to expand her clean cleaning practices to businesses and hire more employees.
Her goals now look different from when she first arrived in Walla Walla: she hopes to grow her business and be able to provide a job for others. If all goes well, she would like to one day live in a bigger home. Veronica wants her daughter to feel proud of her mother, see that hard work pays off, and look back and see what her mother has gone through to get to where she is at now. “My daughter inspires me in everything I do – I want to provide the best for her with the income from my business.”
With the right tools and determination, Veronica believes anyone can succeed. “If you have a dream, follow this opportunity. Immigrants come for a better life, and we should accomplish our dreams.”