Balancing Community Power and Personal Wellness

Guest Post – Jason Lacsamana, Director, Programs and Partnerships


Community power building is a career of passion. Like the leaders and organizers representing our community partners, I felt called to serve our community. I have seen firsthand how “othering” contributes to the marginalization of entire groups of people and can lead to persecution, denial of rights based on identities, hate crimes, and poor health outcomes. Often, I speak about my parents’ mentorship in caring for the “dear neighbor.” So, in many ways, it was a natural move for me to end up at the Fund, working to create communities that are more whole, more healed, and more able to flourish, hope, love, and grow.


Our work is very rewarding but also demanding, and it often takes a toll on our emotional health. For as much success as we see, we are often met with roadblocks, naysayers, loss of funding, policy change, and more. However, the biggest impact on our mental health may sometimes be the personal stories we hear and the personal narratives we’re invited to share.


Celebrating Community Power

When we started planning last month’s Celebrating Community Power event, we knew we didn’t want it to be a traditional funder-led gathering. We have enough of those. What hasn’t been a focus is the burden of the work in the non-profit field. There is a high burnout and turnover at the executive and staff levels. In the last couple of years, we’ve begun to focus on equity, preventing trauma, and healing, and we’ve come to understand how important it is to take care of ourselves. As a partner, we need to provide opportunities for wellness because without the individuals doing the work, capacity isn’t built, and equity can’t be achieved. Healing is critical and will continue to be a priority for the Fund.


In addition to a day of conversations about power building (with several dance breaks), the second day of the event centered on celebrating care and wellbeing. Attendees participated in sound healing, energy chakra clearing, guided meditation, yoga, nature connection, and power mapping. Steve Kim of Project Kinship did an interactive balloon exercise where everyone had a balloon and went up one by one, giving it to another person until they couldn’t contain the balloons and they fell to the floor. Then, we were asked to take one balloon back, demonstrating how all the balloons stay off the floor when we take help from others.


How You Can Focus on Balancing Personal Wellness

Finding the time to work on personal wellness isn’t easy. Yet it is so very critical. You can’t pour from an empty cup. That doesn’t just go for your work and communities. It is also true of your families and personal connections who rely on you for different things. I am guilty of prioritizing wellness for others better than for myself. But I am working on building intentionality and being present for the relationships I have in my life.


For me, this looks like doing my best not to overschedule and including time to disconnect – whether that’s enjoying the sunshine or listening to the rain (recently more plentiful here in Southern California). It’s also making sure to spend time with my three kids because they won’t be kids for long. The most important thing is finding joy in the things that are personal to you, even if they seem simple, like a good meal, spending time with my family, or collecting soccer jerseys.


Do you struggle to balance personal wellness with your work? What are some of the ways that you have found that help you? Let’s crowdsource some ideas in the comments.