Honoring Her Memory And Her Tireless Work
Mónica Echeverri Casarez 1970 – 2020
t’s difficult for me to write an article post mortem for the first time. I would have loved to have met Monica Echeverri Casarez, I’m sure we could have been very good friends. My goal is to be able to cover the story honoring her life as she deserves. Our Detroit Hispanic community, along with Latino Press, wants to recognize a life of service and unconditional love.
Monica Echeverri Casarez, 49, died on April 11th, 2020 at Harper Hospital in Detroit, where she worked part time. She was covering one of her two monthly shifts at the hospital on March 22nd, and shared with a close friend that “she felt like she had an obligation to the people”. A few days later, she felt a cold coming on. Next day, her temperature raised. Two weeks later, Monica died.
She was the daughter of Gustavo Echeverri y Berta Plazas.
Monica’s parents were born in Colombia and moved to Detroit before Monica was born. Her parents took a car trip to Canada and on the way to Toronto, the baby delivery came and Monica was born in St.Thomas, Canada on the July 4th, 1970.
Life was difficult for the family, as Monica’s mother died when she was only ten years old. During her high school years, Monica was a radio announcer and became involved in a project for political activism in Central America. She was very independent.
In 1988, she started getting involved in Southwest Detroit and became a part of those known as “politically progressive and liberal”. She helped organize a Central American Committee of the Detroit Area Labor Union. After, she started working with Southwest Solutions on a program to help people live healthy lives and an entrepreneurship program to help Spanish speaking people develop business plans. She did the same with Detroiters from other communities at Lifeline. Monica worked two decades at Southwest Solutions. Currently, she was working part time as Surgical Tech with Harper Hospital. At the same time she enjoyed teaching at Henry Ford College in their Surgical Tech Program.
I am so grateful with Jorge Casarez, Monica’s husband. Even though he’s struggling with losing her and recovering from Covid-19, he has helped me make this article possible.
Jorge Casarez’ family roots are from Mexico and San Antonio, Texas but he was born in Adrian, Michigan. He grew up and lived in Southwest Detroit/ Delray most of his life. He has a BA in Psychology and a Masters in Social Work from Michigan State University.
Jorge, where did you meet Monica? After working at Latino Family Services as a Supervisor for five years, I moved to Southwest Solutions and was there for 29 years. First as a therapist and in the end as a Clinical Manager. We met working at Southwest Solutions and we became friends. Then she went to school as a Surgical Tech and moved to work at UM Hospital. Five years after, she returned to Southwest Solutions and our relation grew closer and developed into a romance. For our first anniversary of dating, we went to New York and I proposed to her at midnight on top of the Empire State Building. We got married on December 29th, 2012 at an old Hungarian Catholic church in Southwest Detroit and held the reception at the Redford Theatre where the marquee read, “’Good Things Come to Those Who Wait’ Starring ‘Jorge and Monica’”. We bought a house and moved to Dearborn. I currently work at The Guidance Center as a Program Manager in Adult Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders.
What about Monica is it that you most loved and that people have expressed they admired? I loved how giving she was to others, she gave what she had to others freely. She helped them solve problems because she was very intelligent, organized and artistic. She did her best every moment. She was your friend upon meeting her. I loved her smile, she was full of joy and she was MY joy. She gave such great ideas to those trying to have a business and would help them at no cost. She was kind and fearless, all things that could be accomplished were completed and done the same day. Everything she did was done with love. I also loved that she believed in me, I loved her so very much. I told her before sleeping that I loved her, I said I love you when I first woke up in the morning, I told her I love you when I left the house and never said goodbye. I tried make her feel loved and safe. She made our house into a home.
Which were Monica’s latest dreams/goals? Her last project was with the Southwest Detroit Restaurant Week and she was very concerned about the survival of small restaurants. I believe she wanted the Detroit area to learn how diverse the Latino community is, not just in the various countries but the various regions. She wanted these small restaurants to evolve and be supportive of their employees and to the other businesses in the area.
Southwest Detroit Restaurant Week was founded by Monica Echeverri Casarez and Juan Carlos Dueweke-Perez. It’s a a 10-day event that aims to support and promote dining in greater downtown Detroit. The 2019 edition featured 30 participating new and established restaurants.
How can we as members of her community learn from her? Support each others’ businesses. Support the good values we were raised with, to change and to grow. to develop and prosper, to be creative in design and expression.
Jorge Casarez, our Detroit Hispanic community treasures Monica’s efforts. God Bless you! Our appreciation to Gladys and Diana Defrancisco, aunt and cousin of Monica.
On behalf of Latino Press please receive our deep condolences for you and your family.