Mildred Tavarez (Photo by Caleb Robertson/Our York Media)

Mildred Tavarez: Building community with a smile

It doesn’t take much to build a community, Mildred Tavarez says. A smile and a simple hello can change people’s perspectives.

Presented by: Our York Media
Written by: Anthony Machcinski
Mildred Tavarez (Photo by Caleb Robertson/Our York Media)
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Mildred Tavarez says she hates photos of herself, but her Facebook page is filled with selfies of her posing with others.

Whether it’s fellow West York residents at an event or friends at a party, Mildred says group selfies engages others to smile, regardless of what’s going on in their lives.

“There’s a chemical reaction that happens in your body when you laugh,” she says. “That’s the most powerful weapon I’ve found in my life.”

When you pass by someone and see that they smile, it helps you see things from a hopeful perspective.

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Mildred Tavarez

She uses that emotion to better those around her. When West York received national attention for racist Facebook posts made by the former mayor in 2016, Mildred sought to push the community forward.

“People wanted to portray West York as a racist community,” she says. “But that’s not life in West York, and that’s not who the people are.”

Some days, she’ll walk down the street and say hello to a stranger or exchange a smile. It’s a small gesture, but one that can change a community.

“When you pass by someone and see that they smile, it helps you see things from a hopeful perspective,” she says. “We have the ability to change the atmosphere wherever you are. When people are happy and healthy, that’s what makes a great community.”

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