Hibo, age 23.

Host site: Rainier Beach Action Coalition in Seattle, WA

I grew up in Rainier Beach and have lived here since the 3rd grade. Many people in the community think this is a bad neighborhood, but I want them to understand that the people aren’t bad. It’s not the community’s fault. I want Rainier Beach to be a safe place for youth, which is why I was interested in the AmeriCorps position at the Rainier Beach Action Coalition (RBAC). My friend, who works at RBAC as an outreach programmer, told me about it and hooked me up with the person in charge there.

At RBAC, I’m one of the community outreach members. Though COVID has made it more challenging to connect directly with the community, we’re being creative and making it work. Beach Five is one of our virtual programs, where we teach youth in the community about the healthy meals they can make with the food they have at home and educating them on developing good eating habits. Growing up, most of the cultural food I ate was oily, and I didn’t care about eating healthy foods. I don’t blame my parents; they just weren’t educated on vegetables. Now I want to help my younger brothers to eat healthier.

For our Food Justice program, we’re in the early stages of discussing partnerships with corner stores and barbershops to bring organic food directly to the community. In the summer, we’ll open up the Farm Stand, a pop-up organic grocery store. Our goal is to provide nutritious and affordable food to people in need.

Right now, I’m balancing this position with attending school full-time at Seattle Central to earn my AA in social work. I have a personal connection to this work—about three years ago, I went to my hometown in Kenya and saw children without parents suffering, which sparked my passion for working with foster youth and children with disabilities. My long-term goal is to open up a youth facility in my hometown.

During my time with the COVID Response Corps, I hope to have an impact on youth health outcomes in my community. I love my neighborhood and look forward to giving back to the place I call home.

 

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