In honor of Volunteer Appreciation month, we’d like to highlight some of our stellar volunteers who are making a difference in our organization and in our community.
Meet Charles! For the second year in a row, Charles is working with our Development and Admin teams to plan Immigrant Day. This May 20th, Charles will lead a cohort of high school and college students to the State Capitol to advocate for immigrant rights and social justice! You can see the video from last year’s event here: Immigrant Day 2018.
In Charles’ words:
“Hola, Criminales,” In my pigeon-Spanish, I greeted the three Spanish-speaking men who climbed into the van with me. They laughed. They were doing Community Service in lieu of large fines they had received for driving without a license after being stopped for minor traffic violations. This was in 2010 before California allowed undocumented folks to get Drivers’ Licenses.
We were driving up to the Novato Food Bank to get the weekly allotment that would be distributed at Canal Alliance that week. My work with Canal Alliance began by driving that Food Bank van and laughing with the “Criminales” who helped me.
From there I moved to the English as a Second Language classroom. Every Tuesday 8 to 12 central Americans (and now and then a Frenchwoman or Brazilian) would meet me to learn English. These students worked hard, but we laughed too for many reasons. Mistakes were fun, particularly by the teacher or when we confused “he” and “she.” And even better for me than the fun, and the progress I saw, was the appreciativeness of these students. Having been a high school teacher I was not prepared for the hugs and tears and heartfelt “thank you teacher”(s) I received at the end of every semester after the students had brought in a scrumptious end-semester luncheon.
Then in 2016 things changed in Washington and the situation changed radically for residents of the Canal District and immigrants in general. The Canal Alliance was deluged with calls offering help and asking for information about the situation and the Alliance’s work. At this point I moved over to the Outreach Office to help field these calls and organize presentations to interested groups.
Gracias Charles, for all the work that you do for Canal Alliance!