We are all one

We are all one
Jennifer Varenchik

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Ahhh, correction! It was at ELAC, they rescued us at the last minute- what a Godsend they were!

A New Beginning for LA Natives!

Woo hoo! What a night! I have just come back for the American Indian Children’s Council (AICC) first big community event, and boy was it great!

How it all began....

Ok, so I’ve been a member of the Children’s Council since it first started. My interest and participation has waxed and waned- but as of late I’ve become fully consumed with the AICC. It began last year when Chrissie Castro and I sat down to write out a portion of the AICC 04-05 workplan. Since I have worked for or with all 3 of the major Native organizations in LA (UAII, SCIC and TANF) I had noticed that we lacked cooperation and communication between our community programs- specifically youth programs. I had a dream of bringing youth from all 3 of the organizations together as a council to help build our community. So Chrissie and I sat down last year and planned out “United Native Youth LA”- our new Native youth coalition. We hosted a back to school night in October, 2004 as the kick off to UNYLA. We now hold weekly regular meetings and are getting ready to hold our first youth summit July 16th. It’s been going great so far, and in just a few weeks 3 of our youth are heading to an indigenous youth conference in Vancouver sponsored by the UN (United Nations).

Fast forward to June, 2005....Seeing results from our youth coalition, we journeyed into the realm of adults. We recently got word that LA County wanted to start getting more feedback from the community about how to help direct their services. The County funded community forums that are being held through out LA County, in various communities during the months of May and June. June 10th was the American Indian community forum, held at East LA College. Our goal was to get at least 100 LA County Native Americans together so we could start talking about what our issues are as a community.

Well, I’m happy to report we hit our mark! It was absolutely fabulous! Fortunately I didn’t stop to think about the power of getting so many Native community members together in one room, or I would have broken down. I had been praying for the forum ever since I had heard about the project. I was so good to see so many Indians in one place, and then to hear their comments and concerns- what else could I want? Now, all I’m concerned with is following up on people’s recommendations- seeing how we can implement people’s suggestions.

I’ll be getting back to all of you out there in the internet world. I still need to digest and reflect up what happened at the forum. But I thank the Creator for bringing us together and helping get so many great suggestions for our LA Native community.

Next project- getting ready for the Tohono O’odham Nation visit to Los Angeles. One LA community project down, one more to go…..and after that I’m off to Nevada for a Native youth entrepreneurship class and then to Washoe Meeks Bay for a Native Wellness youth gathering….what a summer and it’s only just beginning.