My Tenant Association President asked me to join CVH in Fall 2012. I was able to see things and do things I wasn’t able to before – like, understanding how inner city government works. I learned there were programs out there to help people. I became a Budget Delegate for the 2013 Participatory Budget (PB) process.
I never wanted to be a follower; I wanted to be different. I’m the fourth of eight children and I was always the one saving my money so I could buy snacks for all of us when we would watch TV together. I’ve always been “odd” like that— I’m the one you can depend on. I started doing volunteer work; I didn’t understand why but it was always the “other people” aspect for me—not for monetary value, just making people happy.
In August 2014 I was asked to join CVH’s Public Housing Committee—to provide input for Next Generation NYCHA. I canvassed people in the neighborhood (Millbrook Houses); I asked them questions about conditions in their apartments, collected information about what was going on in the community, informed them about what NYCHA was doing, and how they could get involved. We engaged over 1,000 people in conversations to get them involved and educated on housing practices.
I’m currently involved with PB, learning how to utilize City government; how to improve our community. I’m building a team of 10 to do outreach—to teach how to participate in the PB process. I want people to be informed; to come out and understand how they can keep engaging in the community – gardens, programs for toddlers, new parks. You have a community focused on their own improvement–that’s vitality. I tell people, don’t just be a member of CVH—be an active participant in your community. If you’re here, you’re not just here for yourself—you’re here for someone else.