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What I have learned in Public Allies:
I felt like I was stuck working in a place with no more room to grow and develop. I didn’t know what my next step was going to be. I was working mixed shifts at Starbucks, wondering what the next challenge would be. I’ve always known my dream was to become an educator and empower children – to love, to learn and to believe in their capabilities. I wanted to be a person children can look up to for guidance and encouragement and be able to make a difference in their lives. One day I got a message – it was from my future director telling me to apply to Public Allies.
I can honestly say that my life has changed dramatically with Public Allies. They not only helped me overcome some small fears, such as writing a professional email and making connections with nonprofits, but also taught me to advocate for myself. I was always terrified to speak out.
I doubted myself, worried that what I had to say wasn’t great, and I wouldn’t be able to offer important input. Those small skills brought so much confidence and developed my character greatly. I can continue to use everything I’ve learned anywhere I go in both life and in future job opportunities.
One way I helped build capacity in the neighborhood that I work with is by starting a block watch. We held a community meeting about some issues going on in the neighborhood for years. We reached out to people from the City of Phoenix to find solutions for some of these problems. One of the biggest problems was that some homes get flooded during monsoon season, which results in expensive damages. It was great to see the community come out, take charge, and take care of their neighborhood. We did our part by getting people from the City of Phoenix out there and then let the community take the lead and make a difference. The turnout was spectacular. The community has talked about some of the differences they want to see. They are starting to come together to form a group that will take care of the neighborhood.
One of the most meaningful moments that I had this year was getting to form a great bond with a handful of girls at Excelencia Middle School. They volunteered with us in more than half of the events we hosted, always ready to help and lend a hand. I’ve become an unofficial mentor and tutor for these young students who are eager to learn and become leaders themselves. I occasionally help them with their homework or just talk to them when they feel like they have no one else to talk to. I feel so grateful to be in their lives, to walk beside them in the journey that is ahead.
Prisma Paredes was part of Public Allies' Class 12. She was placed at Creighton Community Foundation as a Community Engagement Ally . Public Allies Arizona is a 10-month apprenticeship program designed to develop the next generation of civic leaders.