By Joshua Qualls
Despite only being 53, Elizabeth Torres has developed a reputation among kids in Mission Hill as the Tobin Community Center’s resident grandma.
“The only one who made me [a real] grandma was my oldest one,” she says. “But other kids, yeah, it’s OK with me.”
Torres has lived in the neighborhood for 32 years. She has spent the past 20 of them on Cornelia Court in the Mission Main apartments. She lives with her 27-year-old daughter and two foster kids. They enjoy the location because several hospitals are nearby and the transportation is convenient. She is a program director at the Tobin and serves as treasurer for the Mission Main Tenant Task Force.
Every day, Torres picks up students from the local schools, Mission Grammar and Tobin Elementary, and walks them back to do homework. Torres takes part in outreach initiatives and helps people translate English and Spanish. Sometimes that’s enough to get community members to attend events at the Tobin.
“I worry about the young people in Mission Hill. They need someone to talk to, especially the knucklehead teenagers,” she said. “You just got to listen to them.”
Her passion is for kids and elders. She thinks more kids in the community are going to college than they did before, but some just don’t do anything for lack of incentive or motivation. She misses the neighborhood’s old adopt-a-child program. As part of that initiative, she and other volunteers would take kids out to different places and do something fun on the weekends.
“If they need help they know where to find me,” she said. “I’m supposed to be helping myself, but I like helping others.”