At United Way of Metro Chicago, we partner with community leaders and residents to envision the future of neighborhoods, support residents and build stronger communities where everyone can thrive.
Miguel Núñez – one of these community leaders – is an AmeriCorps service member assigned to support the Little Village Neighborhood Network as its works to improve the health and well-being of the neighborhood’s residents.
Learn more about Miguel’s role and commitment to his neighbors below!
What is your role like as an AmeriCorps member with the Little Village Neighborhood Network?
At Latinos Progresando, I work closely with the Community Engagement Coordinator, the Institutional Partner Coordinator and the Neighborhood Network Director in a capacity-building role. My job duties are to host community health workshops at local schools, support Latinos Progresando and its partner organizations in advertising and carrying out community events, assisting Latinos Progresando’s Legal Department during their walk-in hours and creating/editing the minutes for committee meetings.
What about this role brings you joy?
As someone privileged enough to have received a college education, I feel that I have a responsibility to educate and empower those that have not had this opportunity. It has been rewarding to leave the office and enter the community, working closely with community members and helping them understand and better address their education, health and safety concerns. It has been a real pleasure observing their growth and heightened consciousness regarding these issues. It has also been great working closely with parent leads and watching them grow into their leadership positions. To know that I played a role in that development has been a very gratifying experience.
What are favorite features of Little Village?
Little Village reminds me of Orizaba, Veracruz. In a concrete jungle like Chicago, finding a tightly knit, friendly and distinctly Latino neighborhood feels special. It has been a lot of fun visiting the local restaurants and museums at my site. I honestly think that the Cocula Restaurant and the “tamale lady” who works outside our office has contributed to my mysterious 10 lb. weight gain. Little Village is an area in Chicago that I had not explored out of fears and preconceived notions, so it has been a real treat spending time here and getting to know the area better.
What do you hope for future of Little Village and residents?
Latinos Progresando is celebrating 21 years in the Marshall Square Community. Because it has existed for so many years, the local community knows the organization and have developed a close relationship with this nonprofit. Multiple activists, parents and youth have partnered with us and continue to support our programming. I hope this level of engagement continues, and I hope that the community continues being united and engaged in the discussions regarding land usage and other contentious issues in the area.
Additionally, many community members rely on the organization to help connect them to services and support. I hope that our organization continues to help them, while also teaching them how to seek out that information themselves.
How do you wish to be a part of creating that vision?
I realize that my time in this site is limited, so I hope that whoever takes over my position after my service continues to help the organization thrive and achieve its goals. In the meantime, I will continue sharing my enthusiasm, knowledge and experience to Latinos Progresando to support the work of my coworkers and, in the process, develop new skills.