I Choose to be Genuinely Powerful

Nov 20, 2020

In my short time interning at Casa Chirilagua, I have learned so much from the Culture of Honor that staff and program participants seek to carry out as we live life together in the neighborhood. This month, we continue learning and encouraging one another to live out what it means to be genuinely powerful. This month’s theme has particular meaning to me as I’ve learned from co-workers, and students, what it looks like to use our personal power to advocate for ourselves and others. 

I’ve had the privilege of conducting interviews with our Teen’s Club students and their parents over the past few weeks. It has been such a gift to witness the gratitude that families and students have for Casa Chirilagua, while also hearing the students and parents name their needs, using their power to advocate for themselves and others. 

One consistent theme I’ve heard from our Teen’s Club students is a need for assistance with their online school work and navigating an already difficult season of life in middle school. Last week, we began hosting middle school students in our building to do their asynchronous Monday school work. I was delighted to see the number of students who came to the building, taking ownership over that opportunity, and asking for what they need. Students were able to take advantage of a quiet, socially-distanced space to get work done for several hours, and could ask for help on assignments that were difficult.  

I will take so much away from the culture Casa has created within their organization and in the community. I met a man leaving work the other week from the community, and he asked me this question: “What do you even like about Chirilagua? Why are you here?” Aside from being in a program that required an internship, I told him I love Chirilagua because I believe I have so much to learn from the people here. I will most definitely walk away from Chirilagua having been impacted by the way Casa staff and community members have learned to exercise their power for good, to address needs for themselves and one another, loving their neighbors as themselves. 

We are a community of people “learning together to love our neighbors as ourselves” in a Latino neighborhood in Alexandria, Virginia.

As a faith-based Christian non-profit with a small staff and over 100 volunteers, we serve alongside more than 100 families and their children (1st-12th grades) each week through our community programs.

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Our relational network of volunteers and donors reflects a diverse group of individuals from all over the Washington, D.C. metro area. As a non-profit, we rely on the community for assisting program directors on-site, being mentors, supplying the needs of our food pantry, and everything in between. Each member of our Casa community holds a unique gift, whether time, talent or treasure.