The Value of Following Up

This week was mainly about following up on last week’s work. I was able to secure a follow-up meeting with Made in Durham where our organizations learned some valuable ways to help each other. The organization seems to do incredible work, but something that came up on my end was our limited capacity in terms of our Latinx services and how to possibly address that. The biggest obstacle at the moment it seems is our lack of translated documents preventing us from actually being able to communicate how we can help to the community itself. In turn, I started doing more translation work, and boy is that tedious. I started with translating our organization overview and general services, but then my conversations with my colleague transitioned to the best plan of action in determining our priorities and how best to move forward. 

The interim solution? Translating our website. This has proved tedious as the smallest details that one may not think of have proven to be imperative and/or valuable to creating a sustainable model within the organization. However, this sustainability isn’t simply addressed through translated documents, but also with a consistent staff/advocate body that is able to speak Spanish and effectively communicate with our members. Consequently, this is something for us to think about moving forward before we can truly follow-through with our partnerships. 

Considering how limited staffing is during the summer compared to the spring and fall made me think about the demographics of our advocates throughout the year. Currently, CEF does a house course, which I took part of, but we did not have many Latinx students involved. In turn, I am hoping to target Latinx groups at Duke University like Mi Gente and LTA, a sorority, in order to create a sustainable resource for Spanish-speaking advocates who can carry out our goals past the short-term. As such, this is something I cannot quite get done at this point in the summer due to students being on vacation, but as the Fall semester approaches, this is an idea I hope bears meaningful, tangible results. 

On the advocacy side, I was excited when one of our members won money in a game we offer our members to play whenever they make a deposit with us. This truly incentivizes members to follow-through on their goals, and it makes me appreciate what a difference any amount of money can make in people’s lives, no matter how small. Finally, after a rocky start to our relationship last week, I was able to complete three goals with my member, which made them really happy and hopeful as we move forward to improve their circumstances. I have to credit one of my colleagues who was there to support me as well and help us make a good action plan moving forward.

Cristian; Portfolio; Bio

Cristian Santiago is a rising senior economics major from Tampa, Florida. Cristian is committed to helping vulnerable populations, work he sees as abundant. He will be working to better understand and address urban planning and gentrification issues with Community Empowerment Fund in Durham, NC, a nonprofit organization that focuses on interrelated issues of housing, employment, and financial independence for low-income residents.

Christian is a 2018 undergraduate Pursuit of Purpose participant.

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