En Nuestras Manos/In Our Hands Campaign
Somos’ work takes place through the In Our Hands Campaign; a title that reveals the primary focus of our work – putting directly into the hands of our community that which we can move forward ourselves.
In Mayfair we define that work as preparing our children to succeed in school and nurturing healthy families at home and in the streets of Mayfair. Towards these goals, Somos Mayfair organizes a broad network of neighborhood leaders who are building a grassroots movement of families working together to ensure that:
- Our children enter Kindergarten fully ready for school;
- Our children are proficient readers by the end of third grade;
- Our families foster daily practices of good nutrition, exercise, and emotional self-care.
Each year Somos recruits and trains 100 neighborhood residents to serve as early childhood education and family health Promotores (peer mentors). Trained in the internationally practiced Promotor Model, Promotores impart lessons and support families to adopt practices that foster successful students and healthy families. Our work is performed in people’s homes, at Somos Mayfair’s office, in parks, at the community center, in church halls, and anywhere people gather in Mayfair. By taking the “classroom” into traditional and non-traditional spaces, Somos’ Promotores do their work in a very public and visible fashion. This is intentional. In order to turn our work into a neighborhood movement, the work must enter the consciousness of the community, must be perceived as a cultural norm and practice of Mayfair.
Community transformation is a formidable challenge. The root causes of crisis in Mayfair are complex and deep. That sheer complexity defeats efforts towards solutions from the very beginning. We know this, yet, even in the face of this, and maybe even because of this, Somos Mayfair’s In Our Hands campaign begins first and foremost with simplicity. We first eliminate the impulse to design a strategy that is as complex as the proverbial “rocket science”; ours is the “anti-rocket science” campaign. We do this because we are putting the campaign in the hands of community residents and out of the hands of professional nonprofit staff. Furthermore, we assume constant transition of community members in and out of Mayfair and thus our strategy will continually have to be picked up and carried by newly arrived leaders. Simplicity and clarity are sheer necessities.
The Mayfair Neighborhood
The Mayfair neighborhood is one of the oldest neighborhoods in the City of San Jose. First established in the early 1900s, Mayfair has always been home to working-poor immigrant families, primarily from Mexico. Today, Mayfair is home to 13,103 residents, still predominantly first and second-generation Mexican-origin families, but increasingly home to immigrants from the Philippines, Vietnam, and India. The median household income is roughly one-third less ($44,877) of the Santa Clara County median income ($106,300). High school graduation rates for the neighborhood are estimated to stagnate near 50% and rates of obesity and chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease far surpass the averages for the county.
In the face of these and other challenges the neighborhood relies on community assets unique to Mayfair. First among these assets is the living legacy of grassroots leadership. Mayfair was home to United Farm Worker founder César Chávez. It was in Mayfair where César first learned the craft of community organizing. Mayfair was also home to the first generation of Latino leadership that emerged from the Chicano Movement of the 1960’s and 70’s. Many of today’s regional elected and institutional leadership began their work in Mayfair. That legacy animates the work of Somos Mayfair with today’s generation of leadership.