Mid-City Community Advocacy Network is proud and honored to have an old friend return home to experience her neighborhood through new eyes. Lesliee Renteria writes about this exciting season in her own words:
"As an undocumented woman of color in City Heights I was constantly reminded to live behind the shadows, to not speak up because it was not my right. I grew a fear to walk in the streets surrounded with poverty and violence. I feared that my voice will be shut down and I will be denied from opportunities like my home country did. However, my advocates were around the corner of my house.
I began my journey of change with the Mid-City Community Advocacy Network Youth Council. I felt a sense of belonging despite my residency status and ethnicity. I was told that I had a voice and it mattered. Being surrounded by young leaders became my safe place. The skatepark campaignb was my first step into the world of organizing and advocacy. I was introduced to the power of the people and the power of community through a collective effort. It took lobbying our elected officials, rallying in our community, speaking with Private and Public foundations and about 4 years to obtain land and funding to construct a community skatepark for young skaters to receive their safe place. Mid-City CAN allowed me to realize that I can be my own advocate.
Now, as a student at the University of California Merced I get asked about my plans once I graduate college. I do not have a definite answer, but I do know that I am encouraged to defeat the constant battle that City Heights lives in and break out from the legacy of impoverished resources in my community.
I now have the opportunity to return to my community and intern for Mid-City CAN and assist with my knowledge of my community. I am excited to approach the advocacy world in a different aspect as I will be assisting Sarah Witmer in Media Communication. As a youth I realize the power that media has on people. I will have the ability to transmit messages that can empower young men and women in City Heights.
I will win the battle that City Heights offers me as a young, undocumented woman of color, with the support of my neighborhood. When I officially return back to City Heights with my degree, I will offer even more hope and more importantly the ability to create a systematic change in my hometown."