Allison Castro: Presentations of Impact 2020

Allison Castro: Presentations of Impact 2020

When I interact with the community, I find myself. I find myself connecting. I find myself back where I loved being as a little girl. I find myself doing my dream job. I find myself leading. Being in the community I have found myself. Hi, I'm Allison Castro, a Public Ally working as an outreach coordinator with Tucson Clean & Beautiful.

Being an outreach coordinator I have had the opportunity to join the community through the eyes of a nonprofit that open up opportunities to those that are often seen or are treated as less or often judged for their cultures, beliefs, and unique beauty. I had the opportunity to meet some incredible advocates in different communities that stand for all things I want to make an impact in like inclusions, diversity, opportunities, environmental stewardship and second chances.

When I first began to interact with the communities that my organization focuses on I felt shy and completely lost as to how I was supposed to convince them that I was a good person. I felt like I needed defenses and that I needed to prove that I wasn't just a 21-year-old trying to simply get through an internship. Little did I know that they had accepted me before I even began my scripted interaction, that I carefully crafted to approach them. I always felt right at home and I felt like the leader I was pushing to become.

Being in the community I learned that our biggest flaw was communication. Many times people wouldn't agree with what we were doing for lack of knowledge and understanding. Therefore being here for them and being able to talk to the neighbors about our process of volunteering or getting trees planted in their homes showed them that it was something they were interested in, they simply wanted a bit more information and since we often helped hispanic communities there was no advocate that had clear communication with them in their native tongue, Spanish.

Being with Tucson Clean & Beautiful I was able to help translate a lot of our information into Spanish, giving the neighbors the opportunity to be in the loop about what is happening in their community. Shortly after the fliers, social media post, and outreach material was handed out in English and Spanish we began to see an increase in volunteers of multiple ethnicities, backgrounds, and cultures as well as an increase in the number of households that agreed to take care of two free trees.

My time with TBC was filled with learning about the communities we served. I came to learn where in Tucson we needed to take a little extra time to complete some outreach to bring shade and education about the environment to these communities. I spent a lot of time researching through city websites about projects being done by the city. I learned about the challenges we face when change was needed in mature communities. Having the opportunity to join my colleagues to the sites on these projects, I was able to experience the push back from neighborhoods and how it was we worked with them to find a solution that met both the needs of the community and the needs of the environment. Along the way I learned the difficulties and hard work that come with leading projects and advocating for communities.

After many hours of mentorship and learning I was asked to take leadership of our neighborhood tree planting events. This request was huge for me, it gave me the opportunity to show my skills and truly get to know the community. I began to take over our volunteering program. At each event I made it a priority that our volunteers had a good experience and that they would want to come back. Guiding them through the process of checking them in and grouping them with a tree leader I took the time to get to know them better. To learn about their interests, their background and their current point in life. Making personal connections I was consumed by the excitement of being a part of a community. It was at these events that I learned that my impact went past reading people the possible risks of an event, or gathering tools for our volunteers. It was here that I realized that I could be a mentor and a friend to the youth, to our future. I met people from all around the world, working in fields that I strive to be a part of, I met scholars, photographers, Architects, and friends. Teaching the volunteers something as small as how to plant a tree led me to find my community .