NYC and the Renewal Awards
Bridget and I boarded a plane in the early hours of Tuesday morning heading to NYC to accept the Allstate and Atlantic Renewal Awards on behalf of Adelante Mujeres.
We were informed that 9,300 nonprofits across the nation applied for this grant. Adelante was 1 of 5 winners chosen because the judges were impressed with the innovative grassroots solutions we are providing to community problems.
Adelante Mujeres is unique.
Our response to community problems is to take the long road with our community working side by side to create holistic programs that address the needs of the whole person. We know that personal growth and healing must go hand in hand. In order to grow and achieve your goals, you must also heal from past wounds.
Our programs are invested in providing both education and empowerment as well as opportunities for healing. This process can take years but we are not afraid to walk the long road with our community members, knowing that all of us are on a lifetime journey of self-actualization and healing.
On the way to New York, Bridget worked on questions for her interview and the panel discussion. I got some work done on the plane.
We arrived in the afternoon and raced over to the hotel to change for a special dinner that the award winners were provided by Allstate and the Atlantic.
The dinner was held at Ai Fiori, a Michelin Star recognized restaurant and it was fancy. We felt like we were on the set of Downton Abbey as the servers stood behind our chairs and served the food in unison.
The conversation was very animated with the other winners, a couple of past winners, and representatives from The Atlantic and Allstate around the table.
At one point Ron Brownstein from the Atlantic asked us, “What are you doing to help heal the divides in our communities?” Bridget talked about the Farmer’s Market and the way our market brings more than 3,000 people from the community together on a weekly basis to engage with one another.
It’s a way for people to learn about one another over delicious food, drinks, crafts and music.
Nonprofits play an important role in building bridges of understanding between different communities and Adelante Mujeres has developed the kind of trust that allows us to bring people together in a positive way and advocate for the needs of our community simultaneously.
At the end of the dinner, Allstate and the Atlantic announced that they would be doubling our award from $20,000 to $40,000 over 2 years. This was an incredible surprise and we were all grateful.
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The next day, Bridget was up bright and early for an interview at 8am before the awards ceremony.
I went over to the Renewal Summit and watched various inspiring people take the stage to talk about the work they are doing to support communities that are struggling.
Finally, Ron Brownstein announced the 2019 Renewal Award winners and Bridget took the stage with the other winners for a panel discussion. Bridget was the first to answer questions about our work.
She opened with a moving story about Gabriella, a woman from Chiapas, Mexico who made the difficult decision to leave her home and migrate to the US because her family had been negatively impacted by the NAFTA agreement and they were living in poverty.
She did not have the means to care for her small children. With great courage, Gabriella crawled into the back of a TV set and watched as it was closed up with screws. The TV was then placed inside a box and she sat in a tiny cramped and hot space for hours in a semi truck in order to get over the border.
I could only imagine the terror she must have felt. I felt my palms sweat as Bridget told this story. This risk demonstrates the lengths that people will go to in order to make a better life for their children.
Gabriella made it and along with her children and she eventually found her way to Oregon and Adelante Mujeres.
She joined the Adult Education program to get her GED. Not only did Gabriella get her GED but she also learned about herself and all that she was capable of doing and she began to dream. Gabriella decided that she wanted to start her own cleaning business and thanks to our Microenterprise program she became a proud business owner.
Her children went through our Early Childhood Education program and our Chicas program changing their lives as well.
When we talk about holistic support for Latina women and families this is what it looks like. Immigrant families that come to the US have such dignity and determination. They have lived through so much and what they want most is to provide a better life for their children.
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The entire Renewal Awards experience was very validating. We are thrilled to have the opportunity to use our platform to advocate for the need for more programs like ours across the country.
We need more Latina leaders in our communities and we hope that others will see what we are doing and be inspired to do the same in their community.