Alumni Highlight

Monica Avila

Monica Avila, LDIR Alumni Network Member

I am a graduate of the LDIRs in Health class of 2005-2006. I am currently a volunteer and co-facilitator for the LDIR program. I have been involved in the Alumni Network since it’s inception in 2009. The Alumni Network‘s main goal is to bring LDIR Alumni together in a holistic, fun and informative way to share our experiences, have stimulating conversations, and provide support to each other in our struggle for social justice in any forms that move us.

I felt compelled to join the LDIR Alumni Network because of the powerful impact the LDIR 6-month program had on my personal life, and because of the powerful work LDIR continues to do in communities that usually don’t have a voice: immigrants, queer communities, our youth, and single mothers. I’ve had so many personal breakthroughs while being involved with LDIR, and I have learned so much about myself and the roles I play out (and that get played on to me) as a wombyn of color, a mother, a teacher, and an activist.

One of the biggest challenges I struggled with during my time in the LDIR program was my racism towards white folks, especially heterosexual white males – and I was (and still am) in a relationship with one! It almost broke my family apart, but LDIR helped me make sense of the anger and racism I felt towards the same people who had treated me with anger and contempt because of my gender, skin color and social status. Most importantly, LDIR never tried to invalidate those feelings. In fact, I remember the most impactful moment of the program was when Carmen (LDIR’s Program Director) told me that I did have the right to be angry, that I wasn’t crazy. At that moment I felt such a huge weight lifted off my spirit, and I was inspired to challenge myself in every possible way.

LDIR has helped me to make sense of the systematic racism, classism and sexism that directs our society here in America, and sadly, most of the world. LDIR gave me the tools I so desperately needed to make positive changes in my personal life, my family, and my community. By staying involved with LDIR, I continue to learn and grow. There are so many opportunities to stay engaged. LDIR has yearly facilitator trainings that will evolve and expand your skills and knowledge. There is also an on-going Study Group where we discuss politics, art, culture, etc., so we can continue to learn and empower ourselves to be true agents of change. If you have been touched by this program as I have, I encourage you to join the Alumni Network.

I know many of you may not have the time to join but want to give back in some way. LDIR has started a Donor Campaign to keep this important work moving forward, and to become self-sustainable, and eventually move away from Foundation dollars. I am a proud monthly donor, and I know that my little donation is just part of my way of giving back and saying thanks.

I am so grateful for all the love and support the amazing LDIR staff gives day after day. They continue to keep the struggle for social and human justice alive, even after 20 years! I love y’all and I’ll always be one of your biggest fans! Sat Nam!