Action is powerful.
Maureen Bunting grabbed her phone while watching Election night results and called the Latino Community Foundation. Our staff answered the call and invited Maureen to come to our offices. She has been coming in to volunteer ever since, helping LCF build our database. Her presence has provided all of us with much needed hope and inspiration. We invite you to learn more about her story.
Why did you call us on Nov 8th?
I was upset. I had been upset for more than 6 months, but the election results had pushed me over the edge. There were horrible things being said about Latino immigrants, and as an immigrant myself I had to do something. I couldn’t sit back any longer.
I know that Latinos are the backbone of our economy in California. Napa Valley or Silicon Valley wouldn’t be what they are today without all the labor of the Latino community.
My immigrant story is the same as many others. The important thing is that here in the United States, we have a voice and we must use it. We fought so hard, sacrificed so much to earn that. So that’s why I picked up the phone and called LCF. I wanted to do something.
What’s your story?
I’m an immigrant from Indonesia. I immigrated to Colorado with my family when I was 11 years old. People were very welcoming and a Methodist church sponsored us. The kindness of others made all the difference. Because we were welcomed, assimilation was guaranteed. It opened many doors for me.
I went to Cornell to study Electrical Engineering. Once I received my degree I worked in Silicon Valley and raised an amazing daughter. As a young woman, I took off to teach English in Mongolia and China– and my passion became apparent to me. That passion was helping people. After that experience, I didn’t want to do things I didn’t believe in anymore. I wanted to have my heart and my actions in sync.
What is your advice to people who are angry, scared, and feeling hopeless?
- To match your hands and heart. Go do something that matters. Find a place to volunteer, to do something for someone. It may seem like a little thing, but it’s very empowering.
- Don’t feel helpless, otherwise you can sink into being a victim. It’s a choice to be a victim. To sit around and complain without taking any action is toxic, it can spread like a disease. Action on the other hand is empowering, it’s good for you.
You’ve been volunteering since November – what brings you back each day?
I love data. I love technical stuff and solving problems. My house is a mess, but somehow organizing numbers get me excited. I am happy to come here to help this Foundation with the Salesforce database. It gives me purpose to make an impact.
What are you hopeful about in 2017 – is there any silver lining?
It’s a hard question. I think compassion and action from regular people. As a result of this change in government, I hope that there will be more people who take action. We’ve realized just how fragile things are, and there is no longer room for complacency.
When you’re upset, it’s so easy to wallow. It’s only through taking action that you can come out of that. And then taking that action – you can become hopeful. Because you’re doing something.
What are you proudest of?
My sense of empathy. But I guess it’s also my downfall. Sometimes I think I give people too many chances and get taken advantage of. But it’s never stopped me. Kindness always prevails. I want kindness in my heart.
I told all my friends that I called LCF on Election day, and that I got involved. A couple of my friends are now doing the same. I was very surprised and happy to have that impact as well.
What advice do you have for Latino youth?
Look at your rich cultural identity. There are lots of stories of survivors… the things that your ancestors and your families have endured for you is incredible. I have great respect for people who are survivors, who have love in their hearts. That’s the essence of my experience with my Latino friends. They have such kindness, light and love in their hearts. It’s rare and it’s beautiful.
Look into your culture for insight into who you are. Identity is important. At the end of the day, I am my mother’s daughter.
LCF is honored to have Maureen join our LCF family. We ALL have the power to do good. Don’t hesitate to use your talents to help others. It may seem simple, or insignificant to you, but it makes a big difference. As Maureen said, match your hands with your heart. Happy New Year!