Alvaro Diaz: Presentations of Impact 2020

Alvaro Diaz: Presentations of Impact 2020

Ten months ago, in February 2020, I had the privilege of joining Public Allies Arizona.

After living in Mexico for the most part of my life, I decided to come to the U.S. in the summer of 2018, at 19 years old. Having to adapt to and go through all the challenges of such a change has not been easy, but fortunately, I’ve been surrounded by people that are constantly supporting me.

For months, I had wanted to get involved in my community and start working on something I was passionate about. Before joining Public Allies, I was a full-time student and had a part-time job, which meant I had no time to do anything that wasn’t studying or working. Fortunately, one day, searching through my college’s website looking for volunteering opportunities, I found an announcement that Public Allies Arizona was looking for candidates to be part of their first cohort in Tucson. My immediate reaction was to google the program, and I didn’t have to do an extensive research to realize that it was exactly what I was looking for.

During my ten months as a Public Ally, I served at Greater Tucson Leadership (GTL), a local nonprofit that seeks to inspire, develop, and promote leadership that impacts the Greater Tucson Region. Our organization focuses on community development training through programs like the Flagship Leadership Program, which is a 10-month program focused on community development around the most important issues sorounding the Tucson region. As a Program Outreach Specialist, I had the opportunity to work with databases, which is a fancy term to say I used Excel a lot. The organization needed an Alumni database that listed contact information of GTL graduates since 1980. Working on this allowed me to understand the magnitude and impact of this organization, as well as to manage and analyze data. With the creation of an Alumni database, the organization was able to launch its new Alumni program, allowing GTL graduates to connect with eachother and build a more solid network.

Additionally, the Tucson cohort had two Team Service Projects this year. For my TSP, our team decided to focus the project on something related to the environment. We were able to reach out to multiple local nonprofits in the area. We ended up partnering with Community Gardens of Tucson. CGT is a local nonprofit whose mission is to build community gardens where Tucsonans grow food, work and learn together, and nurture well-being in our communities. We had the opportunity to meet Melissa Mundt, the Community Engagement Manager. After a lot of Zoom meetings with her and other Staff members, we learned that Community Gardens of Tucson was trying to bring in more diverse communities into their gardens. They had a lot of different programs and scholarships available to people depending on their needs.

That’s where we came in. Our team created an outreach plan with the resources we had available. It included multiple designs for their social media, as well as flyers to distribiute in strategic areas in both spanish and english. We also were able to give out small packages of seeds to the communities surrounding the gardens (that involved a lot of work, shout out to Jackie, Marsha, and Kelly).

Like any other person living in 2020, the global pandemic seriously impacted all aspects of our lives. From one day to the other, most of us had to switch to remote working, and one of the Allies of our cohort was not able to continue with the program (By the way, shout out to Halima, we all miss you and wish that you are doing well, because you deserve it).

The challenges of having to transition all of our projects to a virtual modality came with a lot of changes in plans, objectives, and ways of doing things; but it also came with a lot of opportunities. Such challenges, required us to also change the way we saw things. Both at our placements and our Team Service Projects, I am sure I can talk for the other allies when I say we built resliency. We walked our way through these challenges and the leaarning we gained from them are something we will carry with us for the rest of our lives.

Having less than one month left for graduation, I can’t help but to look back and think about how different things were 10 months ago from now. Ignoring the fact that we are still going through global pandemic and that we had one of the most exhausting elections in history, I am privileged to say that this was a great year for me. I learned things about myself I didn’t know, both things that I have to work on and things that I am good at. I gained confidence in myself and in my community. I think everyone should have the opportunity to realize that we are more than we think, and that we can accomplish a lot of things when we work together.