This exciting new initiative is coordinated with No Más Lágrimas, and focuses on youth-generated and youth-coordinated activities. This is a second-generation project, highlighting the leadership role of Anacheliz Gonzalez, a young Afro Latina community member. Prof. Debra Castillo will be working Anacheliz and her team, alongside long-time collaborator and No Más Lágrimas director Ana Ortiz, Cornell graduate student and fellow Rural Humanities awardee Carolina Osorio Gil, and an undergraduate research associate, to be appointed for Summer 2021.
During the pandemic, No Más Lágrimas formalized its status as an independent NGO, allowing it to expand its reach beyond the oversight of the Latino Civic Association of Tompkins County, which had previously served as its official sponsor. It also greatly expanded its mission to focus on providing essential food, clothing, and supply needs to the community through weekly food and necessary supplies events, mostly in downtown Ithaca, but also in surrounding towns and counties. In so doing, Ana Ortiz has won well-deserved recognition in the form of the 2020 Laura Holmberg Award from the Women’s Fund of the Community Foundation of Tompkins County. This is frontline work, in a challenging time, and while Ana has achieved elevated visibility, as well as the sponsorship of a dedicated group of fundraisers, it is important to underline that for her it is a natural extension of the work she has been doing in the community already for 15 years, advocating for mothers and children, supporting folks who fall through the cracks of the social support system. An important element of this ongoing project has been leadership capacity building among youth.
A dedicated group of teen and young adult volunteers have been working alongside Ana throughout the pandemic on the crucially important logistics of these events, as they have on all her events pre-pandemic: coming early to set up, helping organize people to register them as well as maintain social distance requirements, taking charge of the cleanup.
While the pandemic is still raging, and the needs in our community are as urgent as ever, the core members of No Más Lágrimas know that it is also time to think beyond urgent action. Anacheliz González, Ana Ortiz’s 21-year-old daughter emphasizes the need for youth to youth mentoring on activities and projects by, for, and of interest to them.
In this project, we will be pursuing three main lines of interaction with downtown youth:
- Volunteering at programs like the food bank events sponsored by No Más Lágrimas regularly on Thursday afternoons at their main site outside Greenstar, and in pop-ups at other locations and days of the week.
- Hosting a youth-oriented movie series, in which young people choose a slate of films, pick up specially chosen “snack packs” at the food distribution sites, and view the films in a variety of formats. This includes watch parties of coordinated online viewing from youth homes, projected films at West Village and other sites, and three events programmed at Cinemapolis.
- Youth will work with youth and adult mentors throughout the summer to create handicraft projects or artworks in any genre, culminating in an art show and sale, with proceeds going to the artists, during Latinx Heritage Month in September 15-October 15, 2021. A catalogue will provide documentation of the art show process, introductions to the participants, and advertising for our community artists.