Second of two parts.
During a time of year often marked with celebration, it’s also a time of reflection and gratitude.
So we asked contributors to our “Community Voices” column to share a person, organization or institution for which they feel thankful.
‘It’s people like Gloria who keep us all going’
Amanda Avalos is an interim co-executive director of Leaders Igniting Transformation, Fire and Police Commissioner, co-founder of Milwaukee Beautiful and self-proclaimed “biggest fan of Milwaukee.”
Take a moment to picture this — you’re sitting at the kitchen table and have a hot bowl of soup in front of you. It’s a cold, rainy day outside and you taste your first spoonful. You can hear the rain softly patting the windows and the steam from the bowl slowly wafts in the air. There is a calm stillness around you as you take a warm, full, deep breath. Whether it be pozole verde or another hearty soup — this is what it feels like to be loved by Gloria Tiscareño, my fiancée’s mother and grandmother to my child.
When asked to reflect on a person who I am thankful for who’s making an impact in Milwaukee, immediately my mind goes to Gloria Tiscareño. When I think about what it truly takes to build and maintain community, it’s people like Gloria who keep us all going. Grandmothers are sometimes overlooked and taken for granted because they can be some of the most angelic people, and it is because of those reasons why we owe them special celebration.
Gloria, a grandmother of 20 beautiful grandchildren and great-grandchildren, a mother of three amazing people and a friend to hundreds of Milwaukeeans, is a South Side pillar.
She teaches me the value of true community every single moment spent with her; Gloria embodies care for others in gentle, often unspoken ways. Day and night, I have seen her show up for so many. As an organizer, I’m often reflecting on what it takes and truly means to show up for community in ways that are meaningful — Gloria does it naturally. I admire the way she thinks and chooses to help others, over and over, regardless of what it will take from her.
I am thankful for Gloria for all the ways she leads people, for how she shows up for them and for the way she holds the community together through homemade food, care and heart. She reminds me of the importance of holding each other throughout and despite everything. Chances are, if you personally don’t know her, that someone in your family or networks is her friend.
So next time you find yourself discouraged or disheartened by the coldness in the world, remember the people in your life who make you feel as warm as she does me.
Thank you, Gma, for being you.
Read more: OPINION: ‘When your existence is a direct threat to the status quo’: My journey to the Fire and Police Commission
‘My housing journey with Guest House of Milwaukee’
Annia Leonard is an event coordinator, model, community connector, teacher, owner of Enchanted Werk, coordinator at MKE Good Food Bus and youth organizer with Uplifting Black Liberation and Community.
This holiday season, I think it’s important to be reflective of my housing journey with Guest House of Milwaukee and all those I have encountered along the way.
Two years ago, I was living out of my camper van. While working to gain stability, I applied for housing through Guest House Milwaukee’s Rapid Rehousing Program in late 2020. Between my recent eviction and my already systemic lack of access, it was a long housing search that ended in my housing managers rejoicing with me as I moved in.
Through their continuous support, I have settled into working and starting a business for myself. They helped me with food and furniture, bus passes to our check-in meetings and helped me set SMART goals.
I honestly doubt I would have been able to empower myself without their community-care approach to housing issues that affect Milwaukee greatly.
My managers, Jaquel and Akira, have been thorough in making sure I feel prepared to be released from the program. I’ve decided to stay with them just to support me with staying on top of saving and budgeting. I also don’t mind that they gas me up about my modeling career.
I think that it is important to have a set of folks who are motivated — and with resources to provide — to give people the attention they need to find stable housing. Guest House of Milwaukee is an institution I am forever grateful for.
And I want to specifically shout out Jaquel and Akira in the Rapid Rehousing Program! I hope this brings you joy, as you have helped curate peace in my housing situation.
Read more: OPINION: My ‘leap of faith’: Why I’m running for Miss Wisconsin
‘I am thankful for the Department of Black and Latino Male Achievement because they treat our students with dignity’
Francisco “Pancho” Sanchez is a lifelong Milwaukeean and K-5 community schools manager for United Way’s Milwaukee Community Schools Partnership.
My name is Pancho, and if you’ve ever met me, you know one thing — I talk. I talk about this, I talk about that, I talk too much, I talk too loud, I talk, I Talk, I TALK. It’s a part of who I am. I have a voice.
Because of my age, sex, gender, education and position, I have a voice. It is something that I’m privileged to have, but something many of us take for granted. Having the power to speak and know that we are being heard, to know what we say is being valued, to know the message we want to convey will even be considered is something that many don’t have the opportunity to experience. This is especially true for our youth, and this even holds more truth when we talk about our youth of color.
More often than not, our youth are ignored, and their voice is undervalued. Even when they are telling us exactly what they need, we decide what is best for them. We don’t allow them to speak, and when they do, we label them a problem. This is why I’m thankful for individuals, organizations and programs that honor youth voices.
Specifically, I’m thankful for the Department of Black and Latino Male Achievement, or BLMA, a department focused on supporting boys and men of color within Milwaukee Public Schools.
The Department of Black and Latino Male Achievement works to improve outcomes for Black and brown students by working collaboratively with students to challenge systems, structures and spaces of oppression. It seeks to create conditions that promote greater success. It’s a daunting task, but it is not what those who work in the department are doing that amazes me, it’s how they are doing it.
The Department of Black and Latino Male Achievement does not work with the purpose of doing anything to or for our youth, but they focus on doing everything WITH our youth.
Their programming is developed with the belief that Black and brown youth are assets to our schools and communities. From its inception they held listening sessions to provide Black and brown students the space to have a voice and share their stories, their challenges and successes. They used that knowledge to build the curriculum and the programming that students voiced they wanted and deserved.
The amazing thing is the Department of Black and Latino Male Achievement continues to be a platform for Black and brown male students to hold space and use their voice to create the change they want to see.
I am thankful for the Department of Black and Latino Male Achievement because they treat our students with dignity and uplift the voices of Black and brown youth in a world that far too often has spoken on their behalf.
Read more: OPINION: Don’t say you love my Milwaukee if you are afraid of crossing the 16th Street Viaduct
In case you missed it:
OPINION: Milwaukee gives thanks: 3 reasons why we’re grateful in 2021
We asked you what you’re thankful for. Here’s what you told us.
Milwaukee gives thanks 2020: Four shout-outs to those who stand out
OPINION: Milwaukee gives thanks: Four shout-outs to those who stand out
OPINION: Milwaukee gives thanks, part two: Four more shout-outs to those who stand out
What are YOU thankful for? Who are you thankful for? Tell us in the comments below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with “Thanks” in the subject line.
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