This past Sunday, Katie and I spoke at Brookhaven Christian Church about Presencia's work. Katie talked about what peace looks like for a kid in our neighborhood, and how we meet those specific needs in our day-to-day work.
Katie knows what she's talking about because she grew up in our neighborhood, participated in our programs when she was four, and now leads as our Assistant Program Director.
After we finished an interview with Reverend Beth, one congregant raised her hand and asked how we ended up with program staff that grew up in Presencia. She was curious if we intended to do that or if it just happened as we grew.
The goal of empowering our young neighbors to lead has shaped our work from the beginning, and we don't believe it happens by accident.
Our team grows up with an inside understanding of the local culture. They speak the language. They know what our students need. They have passion, pride, and vision for their work.
But our world sometimes makes it difficult for young people like Katie to grow into leadership positions. Their lives can be unpredictable because of unstable housing. White culture and expectations dominate workplaces. Parents who don't speak English often need help and support that conflicts with work hours. Trauma from migrating and growing up in poverty can make the children of immigrants feel exhausted and vulnerable.
We have made intentional decisions in our work culture, structure, and schedule to make room for our staff and students to thrive and lead.
We didn't make these changes for our team. We made them together with our team. It took risk, some missteps, a lot of collaboration, and time.
Over the next couple of weeks, I'll be reflecting on some of the key decisions that we have made as an organization so that Wanda, Katie, Jeniffer, Joselyn, and Yoselin could grow from students into young adults who lead with love.
Have a great weekend!