Telling Your Story: The Community Building Initiative

Contar Su Historia/Telling Your Story: The Community Building Initiative

Guest Post: Gabriela Robles, CEO and President


I had the opportunity last week to welcome leaders from the Fund’s Community Building Initiative (CBI) to a two-day convening called “Contar Su Historia/Telling Your Story.” Our stories, our lived experiences, are an asset. They help inform and inspire our lives. I have told my story many times here and in front of our partners, but this time felt particularly special because I could share the deep connection between my upbringing in an apartment complex in El Monte, Calif. and the work of CBI.


It was in that apartment complex that I learned the value of community. As a child, I understood how important it was to do things for each other, with love and compassion. I acted as an interpreter for adults and babysat for younger neighbors. We all helped each other. I took this foundation forward into my work at the Fund. Over 20 years ago, we worked on some complex health issues. For instance, according to data, certain zip codes had a higher prevalence of diabetes. Nutritionists recommended dietary changes.


As we dug deeper into this issue and began speaking to community members, we saw entire neighborhoods suffered from a lack of access. Neighborhoods were food deserts, weren’t walkable, and were far from healthcare. CBI grew out of the need to uncover and address the root causes of health inequities. In speaking to individuals with the lived experience and hearing their stories, it became clear that “fixing” the high rate of diabetes was going to take time. And for us to be effective, we needed to listen.


Wall of Impact Community Building Initiative


Over the past two decades, CBI has grown, and the effort and impact of the cohorts has evolved. However, one thing that hasn’t changed is the love in which their work is done. Cohorts work to change conditions, policies, and practices, improving the lives of those around us. Listening to their stories and seeing their successes in black and white on the “Wall of Impact” at the convening was powerful.


I hope you will take some time to read the CBI stories on their new website and celebrate the work of our partners. Much like I felt growing up in the apartment complex, our leaders have the strength and love to build communities to be proud of that are basado en el amor (rooted in love).