Ana’s Story

When we first met Ana she was 9-years old. At that time, she was living across the street from a couple of inCOMMON’s staff members in a turn-of-the-century 6-plex. That decorative brick building didn’t just house Ana’s family – it served as the hub of her family. In one of the units lived Ana, her mom, dad, and 5 siblings. 2 of the other 6 units were occupied by Ana’s cousins, aunts, and uncles.

Ana’s home was only 2-blocks from inCOMMON’s Park Ave resource center, so she and her siblings had easy access to the programs and activities hosted there. Ana has particularly fond memories of inCOMMON’s youth gardening club and neighborhood-wide block parties. Her dad, Alejandro, would also help lead neighborhood clean-ups; her mom, Orquiea, would frequently serve the neighborhood by cooking at block parties.

Unfortunately, in 2018 a real-estate developer bought Ana’s 6-plex and evicted everyone in the building. Some neighbors still have vivid memories of Ana’s uncle and cousin lowering down moving boxes over a ledge where the front exterior stairs were prematurely demolished. As Ana’s family settled elsewhere, we lost touch for a couple years.

Then, in 2021, an inCOMMON staff member shared a job opening with Ana for an ESL coordinator position at inCOMMON, and she took it! We were so excited to not only get reconnected with Ana, but have her join our staff team as well.

Ana has grown into a leader in the ESL program, playing a major role in supporting her neighbors as they grow in their English-language skills. This year Ana will have assisted 98 neighbors in learning English!

Ana says, “I love helping my neighbors in their journey to learn English, especially when I notice a Guerroro (Mexico) dialect, where my family originally comes from. Every session I grow as a person and a leader, and gain more and more confidence.”

Ana’ s story powerfully reinforces 3 of inCOMMON’s beliefs:

Where we grow up matters – Ana would be the first to tell you that having a resource like inCOMMON in her childhood neighborhood played an important role in her development.

Stable, affordable housing is essential – Ana’s life was significantly disrupted when her family was priced out of Park Ave, and inCOMMON temporarily lost a whole household of leaders who were making a difference in their community.

Local leadership is extremely effective in neighborhood change – Ana’s personal connection to her neighbors uniquely positions her as a trusted ally in their journey toward growth and self-sufficiency.

Your investment in inCOMMON empowers local leaders like Ana to transform vulnerable neighborhoods into places where kids and families can flourish. Through programs such as adult education, leadership development, and affordable housing development, inCOMMON is strengthening the capacity of neighbors to lead change in their own community.

This strategy is working! Over the past decade in Park Ave, inCOMMON’s longest-standing neighborhood, we’ve seen a 11% decrease in violent crime, a 15% increase in graduation rates, and a 17% decrease in poverty!

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