Last week, the Social Action Summer Institute took place in Chicago. Last summer, I received a grant as an alumnus of the CCHD internship program, to attend the 2015 institute, held in Portland, Oregon. It was an amazing experience which helped me to develop new knowledge of Catholic social teaching, and new skills in education and advocacy.
When I returned from SASI, I worked, under the guidance of CCHD in the Archdiocese of Baltimore, to educate Latinos in Baltimore about Pope Francis’ encyclical on Laudato Si’, help them apply those teachings in their daily lives, and learn how they can advocate for environmental justice in their communities.
Because of these opportunities, I am now working on climate justice in Maryland with an organization that focuses on helping Latinos become more involved in environmental advocacy. I am working in my own Baltimore community to arrange informal house meetings and workshops called cafecitos, where Latino families and youth learn how to use their voices to protect and care for the environment. Through this work, I believe that I can help give a voice to those who often think they do not have a voice.
Valeria Fuentes is a former intern with CCHD and Catholic Relief Services. She is a student at the Maryland Institute College of Art, where she also works as student program manager for the Office of Diversity and Intercultural Development.
Find out more about the CCHD Intern Program, which has provided leadership and training for over 350 emerging leaders to date.