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Edgar Florentino was skeptical that he would be successful in life. He came to the U.S. from Mexico at the age of two with his entire family and grew up in the Back of Yards neighborhood. He stopped-out of high school because he didn’t feel safe. Sometimes he got into trouble. He floundered for a while before he came to the realization that he needed to change, and that he needed to go back to school and earn his high school diploma. If not for himself, for his father.
“I enrolled at Malcolm X College and applied myself. It took about four months, three days a week, but I did the work and finished high school, earning my diploma,” said Edgar. “My dad was so proud of me and I was proud of myself.”
A little more soul-searching and Edgar realized he felt a deep connection to nature in the form of flora. Today, Edgar is a community gardener brightening up the neighborhood he grew up in by landscaping streets where “there is a lot of community violence. This work gives me joy and peace,” he shares.
Most of his work is along 48th and 49th street in Chicago's Back of the Yards neighborhood. Beautifying the residential streets and intersections is Florentino's way of helping people feel safer. For this work, he was recently profiled on ABC 7 Chicago’s show “OUR CHICAGO: NUESTRO SEGUNDO HOGAR.”
He also created a bilingual gardening group on Facebook called Jardineros Y Jardineras De Chicago to provide a space for local Spanish-speaking gardeners to get inspiration and seek advice from one another.
“I’m going to graduate in December from my apprenticeship with Green Corp and I hope to get a position working with flora.” Edgar would like to keep his future education and career path in the green industry.

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