Ms. Baca had just finished giving her first graders their daily hugs when she saw the news about Newtown.
“I know exactly what it’s like to get daily hugs from 20 little first graders,” she said. “I love kids. My whole career has been about kids.”
Ms. Baca, who worked in Albuquerque public schools for several years as an educational assistant, soon found herself joining the movement that would become Moms Demand Action. In the wake of the Newtown shooting, she and other New Mexico residents held a demonstration. They hoisted a long sheet of paper, lined with the traced outlines of a child’s body.
“I don’t think people realize these were teeny tiny kids,” she said.
Ever since then, Ms. Baca has been an active volunteer with Moms Demand Action, and keeping kids safe has been her priority.
“I want to protect kids of all ages,” she said. “Through my volunteer work, I do that to help keep them safe.”
Among the work she has done with the organization are serving as a Student Liaison, and working on the Disarm Hate campaign. Last year, she worked with other New Mexico Moms Demand Action volunteers to get gun sense legislation passed in their state, including mandatory background checks on all gun sales.
While she acknowledged that pushing for this change is oftentimes “grunt work,” she emphasized how crucial conversations with strangers are to making that change possible.
“When we talk about it, it brings it to light that this is not an us versus them issue,” she said. “It’s all of us. We need to have those conversations at the bus stop, at the soccer field, at the breakfast table. That thread runs through all of us. We’ve all been impacted.”
And it’s these conversations that bring Ms. Baca the most joy; she said they are made much easier by the research and resources available to Moms Demand Action volunteers. “It’s made me feel like I have a wealth of knowledge and that I can speak with anyone about it,” she said.
For people looking to become active in their communities–either with Moms Demand or with other organizations–Ms. Baca encouraged them to do so, and to recognize that they have time in their lives to give back.
“There’s always some group that could use your help,” Ms. Baca said. “I want everybody to know there’s some niche somewhere, some task you can help out with that fits in your life. It’s important. We all need to help each other out. You might not think it’s a lot, but before you signed up to do that task, no one was doing it. We can do better.”