Hilda Torres left Mexico in 1992, settling in East Boston with her husband and two young children. She was continuing her career as a beautician. “I made good money,” she said. “But, most of it went to day care.”
Then, the owner of the daycare her children attended, offered her a job as an assistant. “The lead teacher at the center told me that it is beautiful feeling when you are able to love someone else's child the same way that you do your own,” said Torres, mother of four and grandmother of two.“ I found that was true. I guess that’s how I started loving this career.”
She took early childhood education classes and earned an associate’s degree at Bunker Hill Community College. In 2012, Torres and her cousin, Gerardo Loza, opened My Little Best Friends Early Learning Center in Malden.
They recently were named one of five 2016 Immigrant Entrepreneurs of the Year by the Immigrant Learning Center. They are the first winners from Mexico and the first business from Malden to be recognized.
My Little Best Friends currently has over 100 students, from 2 months to 5 years old, whose parents come from more than 25 different countries.
Torres said she chose Malden as the location for the center because “To me, it’s a town where everyone knows each other and it is a good place for kids to grow up. There is a lot of diversity here.”
The center’s curriculum accommodates multiple languages, including English, Spanish, Mandarin, and sign language.
“The first five years of life, children are like sponges,” Torres said. “And kids who speak different languages will have better opportunities in life. We have to educate the new generation for the future.”
Torres is committed to helping working parents. “ Our tuition is very affordable compared to other centers in the area”. The center opens weekdays at 7 a.m. and closes at 6 p.m., and is only closed on major holidays.
“Our Teachers are the ones who deserve to be recognized for their hard work and dedication. Thanks to them, our families are very happy with the care we provide to their precious treasures.”
My Little Best Friends Early Learning Center recently expanded, and Torres said she hopes to someday open an additional location.
“I am so happy to come into the school every morning and see the kid’s smiles and their parents feeling comfortable leaving them in our care. Being with kids is my passion and keeps me young. I don’t see myself anywhere else.”
Hilda Torres, Executive Director