SFSU Community Organizing Presentation
In March a group of our What Now America board members went to San Francisco State University to present in the class “Community Organizing and Public Health.” Here is more from the professor Sergio Martinez.
Recently my students and I were fortunate to have several Board Members from What Now America present to us. The class I teach is Community Organizing for Better Public Health. It is my philosophy that in order to effectively teach Community Organizing, also known as, non-violent social action, that various voices be brought into the classroom to share lived experiences and lessons learned from social actions. Hence, why I thought inviting What Now America was crucial and important.
The students and I were so impressed with the guest speakers’ dedication and commitment to addressing various health disparities in and around West Oakland. The images and pictures brought to the class that the children took were powerful. They were revealing and inspiring of the impact and hard work What Now America has had in this historically marginalized neighborhood of Oakland.
After hearing each of them share about themselves, we were motivated to volunteer. The stories were insightful and telling of the compassion and determination in making a difference in these families’ lives. The mere fact that a core group of them are there every single Saturday for these children spoke volumes. Several of us were moved by this and several of my students signed up to volunteer with the organization.
We thought it would be extremely important to thank you for the work they do that ultimately impacts all of our lives for the better. It is important that we find time to volunteer or at least continue to support them in their efforts as best we can. God Bless What Now America!
Student Interns - Learning How to Cook
We have started a really exciting cooking program at the center in the past 6 months. A volunteer, Edgar Jaro, has been spending time each Saturday with a group of older students in our center’s kitchen training them how to cook and preparing our weekly lunches. As a result the lunches have been excellent and the participants really enjoy the delicious and healthy hot meals.
These older students look forward to their culinary training each week. It has been amazing to watch these youth embrace this learning experience and take it so seriously, while still having fun. And it won’t stop with our lunches. Some of these youth have expressed that they want to be a chef when they get older! We plan for these students to continue this training and become certified based on California standards. We are looking for your support to sponsor five (5) of our students through this training. The total cost for each student will be $150, are you interested in supporting a student? We are also looking at expanding our kitchen’s cookware and buying more pots, pans, knives and other cooking utensils so the students can continue this invaluable educational experience and learn even more. Please click here to sponsor a student or make a donation for kitchen supplies.
Welcome to Our New Board Members
Charles Anderson (Development Director) is a native of Oakland and a product of Oakland public schools. He is a professional civil engineer and graduate of the University of California, Davis Graduate School of Management. Charles seeks to cultivate a strong partnership between WNA and the Oakland community that it serves by building a responsive and reliable organization that addresses the community’s social needs. Charles employs his project management expertise, business knowledge, and passion for community development to market and grow the organization.
Charles is also a mentor with the Oriki Theater Rites of Passage Program of Mountain View, California.
Janani Krishnaswami (Medical Director/Preventive Health Consultant) is a fourth-year resident physician at Kaiser Permanente and University of California - San Francisco, specializing in Internal Medicine and Preventive Medicine. She is passionate about teaching, mentorship, and working directly with underserved communities and disenfranchised youth. In addition to providing clinic-based patient care, Janani researches the connections between neighborhood environment, self-esteem, and long-term health. Ultimately, she hopes to help communities generate momentum for positive, healthful environmental change. Janani has worked both in the United States and internationally with multiple non-profit agencies in the areas of homelessness outreach, HIV prevention and counseling, addiction recovery, medical relief and acute care, and youth advocacy/education. Janani received her B.S. in Economics, B.A. in International Studies and Public Policy from Southern Methodist University and the London School of Economics. She received her M.D. from the University of Michigan - Ann Arbor in 2008 and her Masters' in Public Health (Epidemiology) at UC Berkeley in 2011.
Aaron Dolores (Fundraising Director) has been a volunteer with What Now America for the past 3 years. He supported WNA during all major events by providing energetic volunteers from My Own Two Hands which he is the co-founder. Aaron is currently the founder of mixologicity.com. Mixologicity is a co-op of individuals who are invested in collectively uncovering and discovering unique and diverse opportunities to share with each other.
Student Projects & Movie Day
I Have a Dream Project
In February during African American History Month, board member Mona Yazdanpanah lead the Art Day curriculum and had the students express their hopes about the future by making “I have a dream” posters. Afterwards, the students presented their dream boards in front of the community members celebrating the holiday at the de Fremery Center.
The students created some really heartfelt expressions of their dreams and it was amazing to see what their aspirations were, many of them wanted to give back to their community. Here is what one student’s wrote on their board – “I want to grow up to be a doctor or a lawyer so that I can help the people of the world.I want to be a doctor so that I can help the world when they are in need of help, but I would also want to work at a children’s hospital so that I can help the little kids that are in need of help. I also want to be a lawyer so that I can help the good people stay out of prison for something that they didn’t even do because the bad people need to be in prison, not the good people.”
Movie Day December 25, 2011
On Christmas Eve, WNA students and volunteers took a field trip to the movies. We accommodated 50 students and supported by 23 volunteers from My Own Two Hands to participate in this wonderful day. The day was filled with laughter, bonding, mentoring and of course, lots of smiling faces. After the movies we sat together by a warm fire and ate lunch all together as one big happy family, all 73 of us. Once we arrived back at the program to say our final goodbyes, the students had the opportunity to select a wrapped holiday gift to take home and open the next day for Christmas morning. This entire event, along with all the presents, were sponsored by the Thomas Family.
April 11th Fundraiser Event
Our new board member Aaron Delores is throwing What Now America a fundraiser in Oakland! We are really excited and the money raised that evening will help WNA continue its important work. Some of the projects include funding the cooking program, raising money for a summer camping trip, continuing to expand our program’s offerings and keep our doors open every Saturday as we continue to grow. We hope to see you all there and look forward to spending time with you, our supporters.
If you can’t attend but would like to donate to What Now America, please visit our website or our Facebook page and click the donate tab.
When: April 11, 2012
Location: Liege Spirits Lounge- 481 9th Street, Oakland, 94607
Suggested Donation at the door: $15-20
Raffle: Buy a raffle ticket and win some amazing prizes.