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Evoking Change through Embracing and Enhancing Diverse Populations

By Mikayla Lerch

Over the course of my life, I have been involved with various nonprofit organizations within my Pueblo community. My first involvement with non-profits dates back to 2016 when I joined a women’s organization through the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA), where we taught young women and girls about the importance of healthy relationships, raised awareness about domestic violence issues and provided them with community resources. My involvement with this women’s group exposed me to what it is like to be in, and come out of, a domestic violence situation. I received several trainings that taught me signs to look out for and how to best serve as a resource for those experiencing domestic violence. Though domestic violence is a sad reality for many women, it was incredible to see the YWCA develop programs, safe spaces, and other resources that encouraged empowerment and security for the women in my community. I was able to see first-hand the impacts that this nonprofit had on the resiliency of women who walked through its doors.

This was also the moment I realized that I wanted to pursue a degree in social work, because developing intervention strategies that focus on empowering others leads to a type of change that has impact not only externally, but internally. Throughout my college career as a social work major, I have been exposed to communities that are facing poverty, food insecurity, housing insecurities and discrimination. I have seen the disadvantages these communities face because they simply do not have the resources necessary to succeed. I have seen individuals with immense potential stuck in a community where they cannot maximize their talent due to socio-economic hardships. Unfortunately, many of these occur most often in minority populations. Social work has shaped my belief that all populations can receive equal access and opportunities to achieve a better livelihood. I believe in not only providing people with the resources they need, but also empowering people to achieve their goals.

My Elevating Leadership Development Program internship with El Pomar has allowed me to expand those values by working with nonprofit organizations, boards and councils who directly serve minority populations and enable them to achieve a better quality of life. The Elevating Leadership Development Program cultivates an environment where people of color can come together to develop opportunities and enhance minority populations where, overall, they evoke change by embracing diversity. El Pomar’s mission to enhance, encourage, and promote the current and future well-being of the people of Colorado parallels the values that drive my hope for building community and evoking change through diversity. I strive to integrate the values of El Pomar’s mission into the communities that I serve during my social work and future legal career. I will continue to advocate for equal opportunities by working with nonprofits and pushing for policies that ensure achievable and attainable success for all.

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