At Home in the Community
By Marisol Hernandez | Photography courtesy CNY Latino
Jessica Lynn Huertas-Pringle, the unit director at the Hamilton Street Boys and Girls Club, considers herself blessed to have her unique cultural background.
“I am half Puerto Rican and half Polish,” Jessica shared proudly.
Jessica was born and raised in Syracuse, and her parents met on the Westside of the city; but Jessica’s story really starts with her grandmother’s journey.
After being held in a concentration camp, Jessica’s grandmother came to America and found a job in Syracuse. Speaking mostly Polish, she struggled as she raised her three children.
“My grandmother still lives in the same house where my mother was born,” Jessica said. “She shares with me a lot about her country. The stories she has from her country are shocking, but I love to spend time with her, hearing the stories and learning how to make Polish Golumpki, stuffed cabbage rolls.”
Jessica learned to respect and appreciate different traditional foods from her Latino culture by going with her parents to festivals and participating in parades and cultural events. To this day, they continue to attend as a family, even traveling to festivals in Rochester and Buffalo.
Jessica is the middle child of five. She and her siblings are following the example of her mother, a retired Syracuse City School District employee. Her oldest sister, Mayra, is a social worker at Delaware School, serving the community that helped raise them. Her sister, Natasha, is raising three young boys. Her youngest sister, Tanisha, works for the probation department. Jessica’s brother is following in their father’s footsteps, working for the city of Syracuse.
Jessica’s husband, Corey Pringle, brings another cultural dynamic into the mix. He’s African American.
“It is kind of funny because America is like a melting pot, and so is my family,” Jessica said.
Jessica and Corey are soon celebrating the first birthday of their daughter — their “pride and joy” — Coreyanis Leona Barbara Pringle. The name Coreyanis carries special meaning to the young parents, as it honors loved ones who have passed away.
“I feel most proud of my family,” Jessica said. “The way my parents raised us is to love our community, to have respect for others, to give back.”
Jessica started getting involved and building an impressive resume at an early age. During her time at Fowler High School, she was part of the Boys and Girls Club. In 2005, she was named “Youth of the Year.” She also received the Senator Resolution Award. She’s the founder of Syracuse Teens on the Move for Prevention, served on the Syracuse Commission for Women, the Home HeadQuarters youth residents committee and the Hispanic Youth Leadership.
In 2006, she began studying at Mohawk Valley Community College, but grew homesick and transferred to Onondaga Community College, where she’s currently working toward a degree in human services.
Now, Jessica is the unit director at the Hamilton Street Boys and Girls Club. She is a successful, productive and caring citizen, exemplifying what the club stands for. At the club, she’s started a Spanish class that teaches the students about other countries and cultures.
“I believe that if you care for people and build a relationship, they will then be there for you and do anything for you,” she said.
When Jessica is not at the club, she’s helping her husband with his passion. Corey created a traveling basketball team called Lockitsquad315. The squad means family, not only on the court, but in the community, Jessica explained. Last year, they played at a tournament in Virginia and Philadelphia, communities the children on the team would never have seen if not for this opportunity. This year, the squad plans to travel to Connecticut and Delaware.
“It is a great thing and very rewarding to take these young men outside the community and the violence,” Jessica said. “The kids are really grateful and always thanking us.” SWM
This article was provided by the CNY Latino newspaper, the only Hispanic-oriented publication in Central New York. The Spanish version of this article can be read in the May edition of CNY Latino, in both the traditional paper version and the digital format at cnylatinonewspaper.com.