Wilfredo Bolivar was born in Valencia, Venezuela and has been an organizer for the past 11 years. He was a key leader in student protest movements in Venezuela before moving to New York in 1981. Speaking no English, Willy was homeless before establishing his new life with employment and housing. In 1989 he and his family moved to Salem, Massachusetts. He got involved with the Essex County Community Organization (ECCO) to save his building from demolition. For two years, he was an ECCO leader, then from 1990-1995 an ECCO organizer. In 1997 he joined the PACT staff. E-mail: wbolivar@miamipact. org.
Aaron Dorfman was born in Minnetonka, Minnesota and has been an organizer for the past ten years. Studying political science with Paul Wellstone at Carleton College, Aaron became an organizer upon graduation. He was the lead organizer of Minnesota ACORN from 1992 through 1995, lead organizer of Miami ACORN in 1996, and has been lead organizer for PACT since 1997. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cristina Fundora was born in Bogota, Colombia. Facing growing violence and kidnapping threats in her home country, she moved to Miami with her family in 1983 and became active with her church community eventually becoming a lay minister. In 1990, after hearing about DART and PACT through her church, she joined the PACT staff as an associate organizer and was the lead organizer for PACT from 1991 to 1996. She now serves as the immigration project coordinator for the DART network.. E-mail: email@example.com.
Gerard Pean was raised in Cap Haitien in the North of Haiti. He was a community organizer with rural communities throughout Haiti for 20 years before the coup d'etat in 1991 halted all grassroots activities and threatened the lives of many grassroots leaders, including Gerard. In 1992, recognizing the needs of the growing Haitian community in Miami, Gerard decided to emigrate and began working with the Haitian Catholic Center at Notre Dame d'Haiti Catholic Church. He became active as a leader in PACT in 1997 and joined the staff as an organizer in 1999. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Community organizing in any community takes hard work, grit, perseverance and vision on the part of the organizer. It takes anger and listening and relationship-building and trust. It requires faith in the organizing process and a hopeful optimism about what can be accomplished, tempered by a solid plan for how to deal with everything that could possibly go wrong.
Community organizing with immigrant communities in the United States takes all that plus a deep appreciation for and understanding of the immigrant experience, a willingness to adapt your organizing approach to the experience of your constituency, and a recognition that real power comes in organizations that understand the need for unity in diversity. Thus an organization should celebrate the uniqueness of different groups, work on the particular issues coming out of particular experiences, and, at the same time, unite the broadest possible constituency in an organization with a broad vision.
PACT (People Acting for Community Together) has been organizing immigrants...
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