Chattanoogan: Jocelyn Loza – “I Heart Chatt”

Wednesday, December 11, 2013 - by Jen Jeffrey

As people across the nation are talking more and more about Chattanooga, we find them coming here to make it their home as well. Jocelyn Loza became a Chattanooga transplant when she and her husband Alex made the big leap from their home in Chicago.

Raised by her parents, Mauricio and Gladys Avendano, Jocelyn gets emotional just mentioning her father who passed away three years ago.

“He was my everything. My father was a handsome man with a beautiful heart. It is because of him that I am the independent woman I am today,” she says proudly.

Mauricio came from El Salvador in the 70s and established his own trucking company in the States. He would get parenting advice from Jocelyn’s aunt and her friends’ mothers.

“He did well as a single parent and worked hard to put us in the best schools and to care about our education,” Jocelyn says.

Like most kids, Jocelyn dreamed of being many things. “Everyone was telling me, I should be an attorney because I was always so straight forward and would stick to my guns. It was actually a dream I wanted to do, but after taking the LSAT too many times, I decided I didn’t want it anymore,” Jocelyn laughs.

Whatever Jocelyn thought of doing, it was usually an authoritative position with government and helping others and, at one point, she thought of law enforcement.

After attending two years of college in Chicago, Jocelyn then left for Andrews University in Michigan. It was only two hours away and she could still be close to her family. She obtained her master’s degree in public relations and minored in foreign languages and is fluent in three languages.

“Being multi-lingual was very important to me. It helps you to understand a different culture,” Jocelyn says.

She had taken a course in Italy and, after graduating, she moved to Milan for a year living with her aunt.

“Milan is the fashion capital of the world and, at first, I was a little intimidated wearing my flip-flops,” Jocelyn laughs. “I wanted to experience a different culture and it was a great experience. I feel everyone should live in a different country for a year just to experience a different culture and to expand your mind,” she advises.

Jocelyn moved back to Chicago and worked in commercial real estate for the next three years until the recession hit. She was then fortunate to work with an advertising and marketing agency that targeted the Hispanic market.

The next few years brought a rollercoaster of emotions as Jocelyn learned that her father was diagnosed with gastric cancer and had only a few months to live.

“When the doctor told me that, I literally felt punched in the stomach. I had just gotten engaged so I was happy, but sad and I had to balance both,” Jocelyn admits tearfully.

Emotions ran high as Jocelyn and Alex tried to plan their wedding soon enough so that her dad would be able to be there, but he died within weeks of their happy day. Gladys was proud to stand in and walk her daughter down the aisle.

The life-changing up and down events continued as Jocelyn learned she would become a new mother and she just needed to take a break for a while.

Her husband Alex was working in business and with Chicago Public Schools and is currently an art professor  at Lee University. With every turn she made in the city, Jocelyn was reminded of her dad. When Alex was laid off in July of 2010, the couple decided to take a leap of faith and move to Chattanooga to start all over.

Jocelyn laughs, “It was a long drive with a four-month-old screaming. I tried to calm Emie and people thought I was talking to myself down the road. When we got here, it was a big relief. We left great jobs in Chicago and it had taken a financial toll on us, but here everything is pretty affordable.”

Alex established his own art studio with classic, realistic training. He owns Loza Studio & Atelier of Figurative Art on Chestnutt Creek Road in Apison.

Jocelyn had the opportunity to work with the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce with their “Chattanooga Can Do” campaign. “It was a temporary position but it was great exposure getting to know what Chattanooga was about and getting to know the city and community leaders,” Jocelyn says.

After a stint with CBL and getting laid off, Jocelyn returned her focus to her public relations skills.

“In January of this year, I decided to established Hoopla Public Relations and I help small businesses and not for profits,” she says. “What I do is vital for small businesses – how do people know you exist if you don’t put yourself out there? So I have been bringing awareness in that.”

Through her efforts, Jocelyn was able to get clients together and decided to create “I Heart Chatt” which was established this August.

Alex had created the logo with a picture of the Walnut Street Bridge as he and his wife have been involved with everything “Chattanooga”.

“I just asked my husband if we had something like ‘I love NY’ so we started to do our research but couldn’t find anything that showed pride for Chattanooga. He designed this amazing logo with the WSB, because it is a historical monument and it depicts strength. It demonstrates the strength and ability of the people in Chattanooga - they don’t give up. And, that is how my husband and I are. We feel at home,” Jocelyn says.

“The people here understand each other. At first it was strange when a total stranger would say "hi" but after getting to know the Southern culture, it became natural to us. Coming from a big city where everyone is too busy to say "hi" “Now when you see me, I wear my heart and I am smiling and saying hi.”

To wear your heart for Chattanooga and to purchase your custom-made tee visit the website at:
http://www.iheartchatt.com/

jen@jenjeffrey.com



Whitfield Cert Adds 10 New Members After Emergency Response Training

A father-son duo and a husband-wife team were among the 10 people who completed Whitfield County’s Academy 11 CERT training on Nov. 8-9.  The 10 new Community Emergency Response Team members increase the total to 208 men and women who have completed the emergency training since classes began here in 2010.   The graduates, who completed the intensive training ... (click for more)

The Salvation Army Of Greater Chattanooga Expecting To Feed More Than 1,000 Hungry Neighbors This Week

The Salvation Army, with the help of dozens of volunteers, hosted the 5th Annual Thanksgiving Eve Community Festival Wednesday, from noon–2 p.m. at 800 McCallie Ave. Over 200 were served by 50 plus volunteers. The Salvation Army will also be delivering meals to over 600 homebound neighbors Thursday, on Thanksgiving Day.   Volunteers will arrive at 9 a.m. to begin deliveries ... (click for more)

10-Year-Old Boy Seriously Injured In Attack By Pit Bull At His Home In Sale Creek

A 10-year-old boy suffered serious injuries when he was attacked by a Pit Bull on Thanksgiving Day morning. At approximately 10:12 a.m. deputies were called to 175 Daugherty Ferry Road regarding  a report of a dog attack on a child.  On arrival the Sale Creek Fire Department found the child on the front porch of the residence.  The child’s father said ... (click for more)

Alecia Driggins Faces Multiple Charges After Robbery And Hit-And-Run In East Ridge

East Ridge Police arrived on Sunday at 12:30 p.m. at the East Ridge Flea Market at 6725 Ringgold Road in response to a reported pedestrian struck and hit and run incident. Once on the scene, police determined that the incident was actually a robbery. The victim advised police that a white woman claiming to be a police officer grabbed her purse and attempted to flee ... (click for more)

Lawlessness At Heritage Park

As a frequent visitor at Heritage Park in East Brainerd, I must say that the situation is becoming slightly out of control.  To start, parking is atrocious.  The unpaved lot contains nothing but loose gravel which has naturally given way to divots in the ground assuring you a few bumps.  Why isn't this area smoothed out?  It's not worth parking there anyways ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Why I Am Thankful 2014

Over 40 years ago I was a young sports writer when I came up with the notion of setting daily things aside, just for one day, and writing about why “I Am Thankful.” Every Thanksgiving I come up with my list and it is as much about me as it is about my gratitude for all things great and small. I can’t imagine approaching this day in any other way. Here we go … I AM THANKFUL for ... (click for more)