Her heart stopped when she heard the announcement. Then Nadia Zamora cried when she was handed an oversized check.
It was the best news the first-time businesswoman has heard in months.
2020 started with so much promise for Zamora. She signed a lease in February for a space in La Mesa for her Pink Rose Café. Then the coronavirus pandemic slowed permitting and construction.
“It’s hard but we’re just hoping for the best,” she sighed while standing inside her future coffee shop.
Then in late May, Zamora looters came down her street following a large social justice protest in the city and shattered her café’s front window.
“I was not angry. I was disappointed,” she said.
“It’s just been rough for everybody around,” said Union Bank Branch Manager Carlton Hill.
Hill’s bank was one of the buildings that burned to the ground during the unrest.
“I was crushed,” sighed Zamora. “It was like a scene out of the war zone.”
She admitted wanting to give up on her dream in La Mesa.
“My husband said, ‘We’re not quitting. Take the time that you need to mourn, but you got to get with the program,’” she recalled.
Zamora gathered herself and searched her heart. She decided to rally local children to paint positive messages on murals and posters to hang throughout the community. They also the painted the wooden boards guarding her unopened café.
“Let’s bring some hope, love, unity into the community!” she remembered thinking.
Hill fondly remembered asking his coworkers about all the pictures hanging on the fence that surrounded the charred remains of his Union Bank.
“‘Have you seen what they put up on the fence?’” he asked in meetings.
Wednesday, Hill’s Union Bank joined the La Mesa Chamber of Commerce in presenting a community award to Zamora and a check for $5,000.
“Thank you, Union Bank. I’m just so overwhelmed,” cried Zamora.
It was the least La Mesa could do for the woman who wouldn’t give up on her dream.
“One day at a time we’ll figure it out,” she said.
Zamora said she hoped to finally open the Pink Rose Café this December.