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Gente Organizada ready to ‘lay down roots’ with new Pomona office – Daily Bulletin

After years of jumping from cafes to park benches to temporary office spaces, Gente Organizada has a permanent residence.

With more than 6,000 square feet of space, the new Pomona-based social action group center will provide space to host meditation circles, yoga classes, depression rooms and even a news studio.

But the most important feature of the new space is that it gives community members a place to come together to address the issues facing young people, parents and low-income families – something the group could not offer. in it Previous meeting area of ​​1000 square meters downtown Pomona.

“The old space was super small, it was just a sofa and tables. Our events there always moved in the overcrowded parking lot, “said Gente Organizada board member Brenda Gomez, 22.” It became difficult to build a community when you do not have a real home for it. “

Gente Organizada, a social action group, has moved to a much larger location in Pomona as seen on Wednesday, June 1, 2022. The movement is the culmination of years of organization and a community presence that has allowed the group to seek a space greater to await recovery, yoga classes and more. (Photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin / SCNG)

Located at 638 W. Holt Ave., the new office will allow the nonprofit organization to “leave its roots” for years to come, said Ivan Hernandez, secretary to the Board of Directors.

“We are ready to deploy and activate this space,” said Hernandez, 22. “It’s been a long time.”

One of the highlights of the new location is the multimedia space built for members to produce shareable video reports. There is also a sound booth that can be used for podcasts.

“A big part of communication for them will be controlling the narrative of what is happening in their communities and how they see and experience it,” said Enrique Villa, 35, director of strategic communications. “And then offering solutions or proposals to make our communities better.”

Enrique Villa, director of strategic communications for Gente Organizada, stands within the new Seeds of Pomona Media Room at Pomona's much larger location on Wednesday, June 1, 2022. The move is the culmination of years of organization and a community presence that has allowed the group to seek out more space to wait for healings, yoga classes and more. (Photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin / SCNG)
Enrique Villa, director of strategic communications for Gente Organizada, stands within the new Seeds of Pomona Media Room at Pomona’s much larger location on Wednesday, June 1, 2022. The move is the culmination of years of organization and a community presence that has allowed the group to seek out more space to wait for healings, yoga classes and more. (Photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin / SCNG)

There is also the potential for community collaboration that can teach members about “economic empowerment,” according to founder and CEO Jesus Sanchez. While these plans are still in the early stages, Sanchez says the idea has given the organization an “energy shock”.

The group formally bought the property in February, five years after it began saving for it. Most of the funding comes from grants and donations. A capital campaign is underway to help repay the remaining building loan debt, Sanchez said.

While a grand formal opening has been delayed until the new front panel is ready, the group has organized many community events in its new space.

Meanwhile, the group’s ownership of the property is symbolic in a city that is seeing rapid change, Sanchez said.

“This is definitely a kind of victory for the community, for the young people and immigrant parents we work with,” Sanchez said during a recent tour of the building. “But we also do not take for granted that many of our members are being forcibly expelled from the city.

“They can not afford to live here,” he continued. “Where we settled is a road and an area that is becoming fair as we speak.”

A new legal cannabis store is next door, while more flats are planned to enter the hallway in the coming years.

“But I think as an organization, we are embracing it as well, because here we need and it will require us to grow and be ready in different areas of our work to be able to meet the battles and needs that exist in this community “, said Sanchez. “We will not leave. “

The relocation to Holt Avenue represents a new chapter for the organization that began as a small movement led by parents dealing with school-based issues at Lexington Elementary School in 2013.

“It really grew out of us trying to create transparency that we thought was lacking,” Sanchez said. “We knew it was just the beginning in Pomona.”

Gente Organizada, a social action group, has moved to a much larger location in Pomona as seen on Wednesday, June 1, 2022. The movement is the culmination of years of organization and a community presence that has allowed the group to seek a space greater to await recovery, yoga classes and more. (Photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin / SCNG)
Gente Organizada, a social action group, has moved to a much larger location in Pomona as seen on Wednesday, June 1, 2022. The movement is the culmination of years of organization and a community presence that has allowed the group to seek a space greater to await recovery, yoga classes and more. (Photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin / SCNG)

Since then, Gente Organizida has expanded into numerous groups including parents, students and young people under its umbrella – Pomona Students Union, Padres Unidos and Pomona Rising.

Finally, two new groups were introduced, Here and Queer and Pomona Next Gen, which support LGBTQ resources and advocacy for primary and secondary school students in the Pomona Unified District, respectively.

The groups addressed a wide range of civic issues such as budget transparency, reshaping public safety, protecting mental health, and voter reach.

Some of these efforts have led to local changes, including in 2019 when the group shed light on Pomona Unified’s failure to properly spend for its high-needs students under the Local Control and Accountability Plan, or LCAP, a nationwide initiative to direct spending to specific areas in schools. The district planned to use LCAP funds for school police and other security programs, but then reallocated $ 5.4 million to a range of resources, including advisors and programming in science, math, technology, art and music.

In recent years, the group has published various transparency reports reviewing local police budgets, city youth spending, and equality in PUSD schools.

A report for the year 2021 released by the group found that more than 22% of young people arrested in Pomona are colored, although colored residents represent only 5.6% of the city’s population. The school district serves about 23,000 students, more than 85% of whom are Hispanic or Latino, according to Ed-Data.

After Gente Organizada presented the report to school leaders, the county in June 2021 moved to remove police on campus goes to the fall semester. The report was cited as a factor in that decision, supervisor Richard Martinez said at the time. County months later reverse course.

These campaigns have paid off for Hernandez and Gomez, who both graduated from UC Berkeley this year and deserve the Gente Organizada that gave them social action skills to address issues in their community.

“The biggest thing for me was to learn in high school that we can change the issues we see ourselves, without adults,” said Hernandez, who hopes to use his political science degree instead. “This is something I have never forgotten.”

For Gomez, who is pursuing a career in education, she hopes to one day return to PUSD to teach and “approve changes directly for prospective students”.

Sanchez sees the organization leaving a lasting mark on youth. It starts with providing the tools and skills to lead campaigns on issues important to them, he said.

Any young person, parent or community member is welcome to join the group and there is no cost. Recruitment efforts are usually word of mouth or through a community action, Sanchez said.

“Every campaign we have launched has come with a lesson, be it budget transparency or social equality, that is important,” Sanchez said. “But it is always the youth who lead these movements every step of the way.”

There is no other proof of this than in the leading ranks of the organization’s board members: six of the 11 board members are young either in high school or college, while the rest are parents.

Gente Organizada ready to ‘lay down roots’ with new Pomona office – Daily Bulletin Source link Gente Organizada ready to ‘lay down roots’ with new Pomona office – Daily Bulletin

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