Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Latina defines volunteerism in her community

As a child, Angela volunteered at the Zoo and also read to children at a local orphanage.
By Adrian Perez

Angela Rosas, Award Recipient
SACRAMENTO, CA - The 26th Annual Sacramento Women of Color and Diversity Awards were held on March 6, 2011 in Sacramento, California, recognizing individuals whose work has promoted the inclusion and advancement of women of color.  Some of this year’s Award recipients included Joan Cartwright, Musician and Ex. Director for the Women in Jazz in South Florida; Sarah Enloe, Writer, Philippine Fiesta newspaper; Dr. Linda Goodrich, California State University, Sacramento; and newly elected California Attorney General Kamala Harris.  Among these distinguished women was Angela Rosas, a Latina Community Activist who has quietly established herself as one of Sacramento’s movers and shakers. 

Although “Latina Community Activist” conjures up images of woman confronting a PTA or raising concerns at city hall, that is not the case for Angela, whose quiet and shy demeanor fools many who meet her for the first time.  Her dedication, determination and independence has and continues to make a difference in the lives of many children and women, especially those caught in an abusive environment.

Angela was born to teen parents who had to work extra hard to make ends meet, especially to raise a family.  The challenges they encountered made Angela become a “latch-key” child.  Rather than seeing this as a burden, a young Angela enjoyed caring for herself and younger sister, while expanding her mind by reading the encyclopedia. 

Her positive outlook of life continued as she grew older and by the time she was 12, Angela began volunteering at the Sacramento Zoo, helping with the “Summer Camps.”  By age 14, she spent time reading to the children at the Sacramento Children’s Home (an orphanage.)

Angela is also an avid Giants fan
“My parents would drop me off at my grandmother’s house and I would take the bus from there to the Zoo where I volunteered,” says Angela who grew up in the suburb of Elk Grove, California.  “When it was slow, sometimes I would go to the Sacramento Children’s Home and read to the kids.”

While most 12 to 14 year old girls are discovering themselves, their friends and their surroundings, Angela had a more mature approach and a desire of wanting to give.  It is evident that Angela was not a regular child, but one whose gift was to expand her mind and share her knowledge. 

“My parents had me when they were teens, and we were very poor,” says Angela in describing her childhood.  “From them, especially my mom, I learned the ability to make something out of nothing, I learned about pride, respect, and overcoming adversity.”

Upon graduating from high school, Angela attended California State University, Sacramento (CSUS) where she majored in Journalism.  During her time as a student, and in addition to having two jobs, she also volunteered at WEAVE (Women Escaping A Violent Environment) where she helped promote the organization at various events.   

WEAVE is a Sacramento based organization established in 1978 by three Latinas to help women who were in abusive relationships.  In 1988, the services provided by WEAVE expanded to include services for survivors of a sexual assault.  While volunteering, Angela learned to provide counseling and received training to become a speaker for the organization, reaching out to those who feel there is no hope.

“My mom did an amazing job with us girls,” adds Angela in explaining her drive to volunteer.  “I feel that if she created this wonderful life from scratch, I have no excuse for not doing the same, and thanks to her, I don’t have to start from scratch.”

Upon graduating from CSU, Sacramento, Angela took a job as a journalist for a Visalia, California newspaper, where she immediately excelled.  Wanting to return to Sacramento, she accepted a position as a grant writer for a non-profit program before accepting her current position with  As the company’s social media and public relations expert, Angela maintains their Facebook, twitter and overall Internet visibility.  Still, she makes time to continue her volunteerism.

“I am a certified Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault peer counselor,” she says about volunteering at WEAVE.  “Plus, I spend time on their Speakers Bureau and enjoy representing them a various events.”

As if that wasn’t enough for the 27-year old, Angela recently established an organization with some of her friends called “Chicas Latinas de Sacramento,” whose focus is to promote volunteerism. 

Receiving her award (pic by Kati Garner)
“WEAVE has a tremendous need for Latina counselors and through Chicas we have been able to train 10 new Latina counselors,” she says.  “But we still need more counselors that understand Latino culture and language.”

In addition, to WEAVE, Chicas is helping promote Latino art and culture, especially for the youth, and Angela hopes this will also lead to more Latinos volunteering too.  So where does she get so much motivation to be a volunteer?

“I had a powerful role model, my mom,” Angela says.  “I think that is where my drive comes from.”

But, life hasn’t been all rosy for Angela, and she has had to engage situations and people who could have deviated her focus and perhaps hamper her accomplishments.  Yet, through determination and a positive outlook, she has overcome those experiences.

“There have been times when bad experiences could have defeated me,” she says.  “But, I’ve always found strength in saying ‘success is the greatest revenge!’ – not that I truly want revenge, but saying it reminds me not to let others take away from my life’s pursuits.”

There is no question that Angela deserves recognition for her natural talent of volunteerism and being recognized by receiving The Women of Color Award may be the first of many to come.  Undoubtedly, the Sacramento community is a better place to live because of people like Angela Rosas.

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