By Lisa Alvarado, Central Valley Philanthropy Fellow
I moved back home to Visalia to follow my dreams of elevating the Central Valley, determined to invest in and build up the community I love. Divine timing granted me an opportunity with the Latino Community Foundation to make those dreams a reality.
I woke up Friday morning eager and nervous to attend my first event as the new LCF Central Valley Philanthropy Fellow. I picked out my favorite cozy sweater, some statement earrings, and off I went. I made a big pitcher of lime-infused water, “the personal touches make a big difference!” I said aloud to myself. Then I jumped in my trusted Miss Daisy, my dear red VW beetle, and started my drive to Fresno.
My car breaks down 30 minutes up the road, with no time to spare I leave Miss Daisy behind. A bit late, but thanks to a Lyft ride, I arrive safely to my destination. Get the bags, don’t forget the water, tell the driver thank you! I was frazzled and my hair was a mess. Everything was a disaster! Then a quick and kind, “Can I help you?” from Justin Kamimoto, owner and founder of Common Space Fresno, brought me back to the moment. I inhaled deeply, I made it. I’m with community, I got this!
Turns out everyone else was also running late. With moments to spare, I jumped into action. Then a group of local leaders representing the Valley started to trickle in. We all sat around a table and pitched 39 Latino-led nonprofits. It was unique because the committee truly knew and connected with the organizations. They shared firsthand knowledge of their assets, value, and the opportunities they create for residents in the Valley.
This event was small and intimate, but I could foresee the ripple effect it would have in my community. That night, LCF convened the Central Valley Leadership Committee to review and recommend local organizations be part of the new Roots of Latino Power: An Initiative to Unleash Central Valley Nonprofits. That evening, the love we all have for our Central Valley communities brought us together to invest in its brilliance and leadership.
It was personal. This is our home, we love and care for the people behind the organizations.
It was fun! We ate tamales, drank jamaica water, wore feather boas, and enjoyed a night of people-powered philanthropy.
Together we awarded $830,000 to 32 Latino-led nonprofit organizations in the Central Valley! Aside from the grants, LCF will offer trainings on fundraising, marketing, and storytelling to the selected organizations. Through this initiative, LCF will invest in Central Valley visionaries and create a space for learning, growing, healing, and organizing.
I had forgotten all about my car and tardiness. As a Latina born and raised in Visalia, I was engrossed in the pride I felt for my home and my community. I showed up as my whole self and felt accepted. I was surrounded by my tribe. This day reassured me that I made the right decision to come back home to uplift my community. I was happy, energized, and relieved to know I was not alone in my mission.
I can’t wait for the 32 organizations to be announced… stay tuned!