Janie Barrera

Janie Barrera

By Molly Gaudette 

Tiffany’s tree is 23 years old. 
“If anyone wants to cut it down I tell them that they’ll have to track her down and ask her permission first,” Janie said, stifling a laugh. “Its Tiffany’s tree! We planted it when she was only two, and it has been growing healthy ever since.”
The tall pine tree in the front yard was planted when Janie Barrera’s granddaughter turned two, and now it towers over the home she has lived in for nearly 40 years. A week before Thanksgiving in 1975, Janie started her life over on Mifflin Street and claims that since then “this place has brought me good luck. I love my home.”

Janie is a mother to 6, a grandmother to 15, a great-grandmother to 17 and a friend to many in the Eastside neighborhood. The walls of her house on Mifflin Street are covered with photos and clippings of her favorite memories, friends and family.

“I like to make sure that people know where I’ve come from so they can appreciate how much this means to me,” she said, gesturing around her living room. She left Texas in the 70s with nothing but her kids, their clothes, and pots and pans because “Boys eat a lot, those were very important,” she said.

As her neighbors have changed over time, Janie’s narrative is one that others can relate to in the Eastside community. She trades meals and stories with each new family and makes them feel at home. “My neighbors are beautiful people. They call me sister,” she said, adding that the neighborhood kids know her as “grandma” too.

Janie is there for anyone in the community, with her cooking, storytelling, and hospitality. She has remained her loving and caring self through the raising of three generations as well as her dog Fifi, and has watched as each child moves on, always happy to see them on visits home. As her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren branch out to make lives of their own, they will always know that Janie is the root of their family.

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