A Balancing Act
As a mother, immigrant, and social justice advocate, Alondra Espejel knows a thing or two about life as a balancing act. Espejel, the associate director at Minnesota Immigrant Freedom Network, came to Headwaters this year as a first-time donor on Give to the Max day. Espejel became interested in Headwaters after learning about the community-based commitment to social change that Headwaters is rooted in. “I’m moved by Headwaters’ ability to understand that big change doesn’t happen by throwing money at huge organizations that have all of the bells and whistles – they know that real change comes out of funding the organizing power of the people,” Espejel said. “Since I strongly believe in this philosophy, this year I challenged myself to turn my admiration for Headwaters into a concrete action of giving. Headwater’s Give to the Max day provided me with the perfect vehicle and opportunity to follow through with my action of giving while leveraging my donation to generate more dollars for the foundation. I hope that in the future, new and continual donors consider taking advantage of this strategic giving time.”
For Espejel, social justice is rooted in many issues and causes which is why a holistic approach to social justice is important. “For many of us immigrant nonprofit leaders or leaders of color, social justice is not a hat that we can hang up at the end of the work day—you could even say that social justice is not our work but it is an experience that unfolds out of our lives on a daily basis. As a Mexican mother of two, I don’t have the luxury of being a single-issue person- I can’t devote all of my time into addressing one particular oppression as if it were a hobby and then simply put that ‘hobby’ away when I go home.” Being an effective social justice leader includes remaining grounded in the needs of the community. It is the injustice that weaves its way through daily life that inspires Espejel to work towards systemic change.
Headwaters’ commitment to fighting social, racial, environmental and economic injustice at the source was the tipping point of what inspired Espejel to become a donor. Espejel advises other non-profit leaders to become more involved in social justice philanthropy that targets systemic injustice. “I would like to encourage nonprofit leaders to balance their giving by donating to both social service oriented work and root-cause focused efforts. It’s important to go above and beyond the band-aid solutions some of these social service and scholarship programs provide because only then will we be able to break the chains of oppression. I urge nonprofit leaders to consider investing more in social justice organizing work so that we support our fellow community members in building the skills and power needed to achieve deeply rooted systemic change.”