Resident Leader Spotlight- Rose Espinoza & the Beginnings of Grassroots Change


Lasting change often comes from a grassroots level, and no one knows this more than Rose Espinoza.

In 1991, the growing gang activity and lack of after-school options for children led Espinoza to found an after-school tutoring program called Rosie's Garage. Starting out of Espinoza’s personal residence in La Habra, students would receive tutoring in multiple subjects, mentorship, and access to computers to do homework. The program has since grown to multiple locations around La Habra.

In 2002, Espinoza was elected to the La Habra city council; in 2004, she was elected mayor.

Before Espinoza started saving hundreds of at-risk youth through Rosie’s Garage, she and her husband were looking for a home to buy in Orange County. NeighborWorks Orange County -then known as Neighborhood Housing Services of La Habra - helped Espinoza and her husband buy the house that would later be the site of Rosie’s Garage.

Awards and Recognitions:

    • Recipient of the National Caring Award - a prestigious honor that has been given to  Mother Teresa, Rev. Billy Graham, and baseball Hall-of-Famer Cal Ripken Jr. (2007)
    • Recognized in the Frederick Douglass Museum and Hall of Fame for Caring Americans, Washington D.C.
    • La Habra representative on the Hillside Open Space Education Coalition and the Southern California Association of Governments.
    • North Orange County Magazine's “25 Most Influential People” (2006)
    • Orange County Register profile in "100 People Who Shaped Orange County" (2005)
    • Woman of the Year Award from Assemblywoman, 72nd District, Lynn Daucher (2002)
    • Points of Light Presidential Service Award from President Bill Clinton (1994)
    • Featured in Reader’s Digest and People Magazine.