The Californian on our Community Leadership Academy

Community takes charge of its neighborhood

Salinas Californian, 3/24/2012
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Twenty-five community members stepped up to become part of the solution in the Hebron Heights neighborhood by volunteering six Saturdays to a leadership academy aimed at empowering people to become leaders in Salinas.

As part of the "For our Future/Para Nuestro Futuro Leadership Academy," a city of Salinas and Community Alliance for Safety and Peace movement, 22 women and three men will graduate at 5 p.m. today at the Hebron Family Center, 682 Fremont St.

The leadership project was started in this particular neighborhood because of the high rate of crime and gang activity that occurs in this humble community, where many adult residents are Spanish-speaking and hard-working farm laborers. The people who joined the academy learned of the project by attending community "charlas," or chats, at the family center.

"This was a huge commitment. For each and every one of them to spend so much time on this, they should be commended," said Antonia Herrera, CASP manager.

The academy consisted of six-hour day classes taught in Spanish for six consecutive Saturdays. The classes consisted of team-building exercises, identifying leadership abilities and characteristics, advocacy, conflict resolution, governance, media, public speaking, education and resource development.

Most of the leadership students speak only Spanish and live in the Hebron community.

"The goal is to mobilize the community to start taking care of their neighborhood and help us become part of the solution in areas where there has been a lot of gang violence," said Herrera.

After the program ends, the leadership students are to work in their committees — tasked with reporting crime, leadership program development, neighborhood beautification projects and education...

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