Councilor's blog, Stardate 1116.22. Last night, the councilmembers of the City of West Liberty voted unanimously to finalize resolutions that would provide $190,000 in community relief. $150,000 of those funds will go to the Ministarial Association to administer utility payments for qualifying households who need relief from high utility bills; $20,000 will go to the WL Food Pantry for not only food assistance but for other things like "Christmas" Boxes for children in need; and $10,000 will go to the WL Community School District for students who needs it to pay for school fees, clothing, supplies, etc.
The Escuche Mi Voz represententatives and others in need were there to witness the end of a long battle where they fought to be listened to and heard. Of course, there will always be more work to be done, but for a brief moment, I hope they find peace and take time to celebrate their victory.
What I wanted to say was...
Because I'm a much better writer than speaker, I always kick myself after-the-fact when I know I wanted to say something that didn't quite come out the right way during a council meeting. So here is what I wish I could have said.
"In my experience, I grew up seeing my aunts and uncles and my dad work day and night - just to give their children a better life. They did it without asking for help, even when it was hard, and they endured a lot of mistreatment from the companies they worked for that were just using them for their cheap labor, and they still came to work everyday. They lived with racism from some of their neighbors, coworkers, and outsiders, but they still lived here anyway. I was taught that Latinos don't complain. They don't ask for things they want, but get what they get and make good with that. They keep their heads down and they do what they need to do to survive and they don't risk making a scene. That was my experience growing up. But, the members of Escuche Mi Voz have created a new memory of what it means to be Latino for our children. I brought my children to the last meeting so they could see what democracy really looks like. So they could see brown people like them, being confident, respectfully engaging with their government officials, and advocating for their rights and the help they deserve as fellow residents. And my kids both asked if they could come back tonight. They wanted to feel like they are a part of something big. I say this because you thank the council for us voting on this money, but understand it is YOU who we are thanking and it is YOU, Escuche Mi Voz, that made this happen. 800,000 Latinos turn 18 each year in this country - and that's just the eligble voters. Imagine the difference that Escuche Mi Voz was able to make for themselves and our community and multiply it by the millions. You might be a small group of activists, but you exhibited the power we have when we come togther and organize. Other towns and cities could learn a lot from you. And, as everyone knows, West Liberty is a special place that gets noticed all over the western hemisphere. So just know that I see and appreciate your power, your voice, and your fight. And I thank you, and my children thank you."
West Liberty Unsung Hero Gets A Deserving Nod in Washington, D.C.
While the council was taking their vote, our very own Father Guillermo Trevino was in Washington, D.C. receiving the Cardinal Bernardin New Leadership Award for his leadership and support given to Escuche Mi Voz. I have no doubt that a higher power has a direct line to him, and we are so fortunate that he chooses to serve our community and many others. This award is very much deserved and I am proud of him and of all the members of Escuche Mi Voz who live in West Liberty and beyond.