Guest Column: If you want to go far, you must go together
Published 8:54 pm Friday, October 26, 2018
Live United by Gema Alvarado-Guerrero
Two weeks ago, I had the honor of attending the Strive Convention in Seattle. If you are not aware of the StriveTogether network, their work entails ensuring that every child has access to a great education despite their zip code, income level and race through collective impact. Essentially, their philosophy mirrors the African proverb that if we want to go fast, we go alone. But if we want to go far, we must go together. Simple enough, right? Well, not exactly.
Being the executive director of a nonprofit organization that assists parents and guardians in two counties, I can assure you that my colleagues and I know that our work is impactful, but it is not enough. Just like it takes a village to raise a child, we also must be cognizant that it takes a village to support parents as they raise our future generations. What if the cure to cancer is trapped in the mind of a child whose parents need extra support and encouragement to keep trucking along despite the hardships they face? When a family does not have their basic needs met, they cannot focus on things that we take for granted, such as clothes, food, shelter, transportation, etc.
My friends, ask yourself this question: How do you spend your privilege? What do you have to offer this beautiful community that you are keeping hidden like a precious gem? If you’re unsure, let me give you an idea. This month is Domestic Abuse Awareness Month, as it is Parenting Time Center Month. By parenting time center, we mean sites such as the Michael H. Seibel Family Visitation & Exchange Center that provide supervised visitation and exchanges for children to visit with their noncustodial parent. For you, these two topics may seem grim. But for those of us that work in the field, we feel like it is our time to spread the word and say that domestic violence and situations where parents can’t have contact with each other is happening in our communities, and our children are witnessing it. Our future teachers, doctors, architects and nurses are living in situations that are stripping them of their childhood.
My question for all of you this month and always is to stop and think, what can I offer our youth? Perhaps it is just a smile, a good morning, a genuine, “How is your day going?” My second question of you is this: When you see a child going through a hardship, don’t see them as low-income, high needs, in poverty, etc. Think of them as an opportunity. An opportunity to blossom in their best selves. When you think about those who need a helping hand this way, we become more inclined to help them the best that we can. And, remember, if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. Community members, we are all in this together.
Gema Alvarado-Guerrero is the executive director of the Parenting Resource Center Inc. For more information, visit their website: www.prc-austinmn.org or like them on Facebook.