On May 18th, we celebrated the five year anniversary of my nonprofit organization, Chicas Latinas de Sacramento. Today I was inspired to share the speech I gave (also known as “my novel”), as I needed a reminder as to why I do, what I do.
Today, Chicas Latinas is underfunded. In fact, we’re not funded at all. Now that we have over five solid years of service and our 501(c)3 status, I’m ready for this to change.
I believe in what we’re doing. Here’s why:
Chicas Latinas de Sacramento: 5 Years Later
– Speech by Angela Rosas, Founder & CEO Chicas Latinas de Sacramento
May 18, 2014, Sacramento – Welcome and thank you for joining us at Chicas Latinas de Sacramento’s 5 year Anniversary Dinner. Five Years ago 15 women met here at Zocalo for happy hour. I had a simple idea to unite Latinas for two reasons; to inspire volunteerism in the community and explore our Latin cultures (something that was missing in my own life).
What happened was something unexpected, here we are five years later with a 501(c)3 nonprofit status, a board of directors, 200 volunteers, various committees, and amazing community support. The truth is, I didn’t mean for this to happen. I had no intention of founding a nonprofit.
I’m often asked, “What exactly does your organization do?” For me this is a very hard question to answer — I started without a mission, without a plan, without a destination — I saw a void and I filled it. We did what needed to be done and we did a lot! I even struggled with whom my organization was serving. We were serving through volunteer cultivation, giving in a very grassroots manner, supporting business which supported our culture, and spreading culturally diverse opportunities and experiences to the community. But on the other hand, I saw the women who joined Chicas Latinas; I witnessed their personal transformations, growth and literally saw women turn into leaders. Imagine how hard it was to form a mission statement for Chicas Latinas de Sacramento.
Today… Our mission is to make a positive impact in both the Latin and Sacramento community by improving, connecting and embracing our culture and the community in which we call our home. (By… giving back, utilizing our people and our culture to educate, inspire, and lead.)
This mission is long, and despite being on point, it’s also very vague and it doesn’t come close to capturing all we truly do for the community. Our true mission, in my opinion, is to love. What I’ve learned along this journey is that Latinas = Love and in Love is great power and strength.
I gave an interview not too long ago, I was asked who my “LADY MENTOR was GROWING UP?” My response: “I come from a family of strong women. Women, who were dealt some tough cards, never folded, but instead learned card tricks, and taught me that I too can be a magician.”
You’ll never read about my great-grandmother, grandmother, or mother in history books… but these women were and are powerful forces. Even on the days we had nothing, we seemed to have everything. Show them an obstacle, they’ll show you 10 different ways around it.
When Latinas give out of love, obstacles do not exist. We LOVE our community. We LOVE our culture — even more so, we LOVE our families and the future of our families — this is why Chicas Latinas de Sacramento is still here five years later without staff or funding, obstacles do not exist for us, they do not exist for me. We are working to build a healthy community and cultural identity that will support our families. In doing so, we’re also building healthy families which will further support a healthy community and culture for generations to come.
As I watch the next generation of Latinos mature, I see them struggle with similar growing-pains and identity-crises my generation struggled from. Our youth continue to be split into 2 major directions: incarceration and military, as the words “higher-education” remain luxury words for many. Unfortunately, we live in a time when policy criminalizes poverty and over generations this has become not only normalized, but a culture within itself.
This simply needs to change. I try my best to steer away from political discussions, especially when concerning Chicas Latinas – red tape and I do not go well together, as I have a history of taking matters into my own hands. The system as it is does not support me, my family, or our future – for this reason, I feel civic engagement is worth mentioning here.
There is something amazing Chicas Latinas helped me discover about philanthropy and volunteer cultivation. When people get involved in their community and serve, awareness happens. Awareness to the issues and challenges in our community and the awareness of the power just ONE individual can have. This is why volunteering is so important, yes we’re helping, but we’re inspiring awareness and civic engagement within our members and their families. We’re proving how powerful and valuable every individual can be – regardless of ethnicity, gender, class, or education level. Chicas Latinas members are aware, they’re leaders, they’re leading out of love, and they’re inspiring others in their own communities and families to give and to discover their value and role in our community.
Philanthropy leads to civic engagement. This is where change happens. It happens with us: Chicas Latinas of Sacramento, as we feed the homeless, volunteer at women’s shelters, tuck-in children for their naps at crisis shelters, rebuild homes for vets, counsel victims of assault, work with the youth… work with each other.
I want to personally thank my members and supporters for continuing to inspire me. I’m here before you, five years later, we didn’t have much then — we don’t have much now, yet each one of you have contributed something amazing that has kept me and this organization going. I often say that passion can only get us so far, but I continue down this path, because I know Latinas are magicians. We love our community, we’ve discovered our voice and our power, and we’re learning new magic tricks every day.
Chicas Latinas de Sacramento, for this I thank you; you give me hope that change is possible and we’re possible. Here’s to another five years of inspiring, leading, and magic tricks.
(PDF of Speech: CL 5 YR ARosas)