By Elisabeth Slay
Northeast News Editorial Assistant
The Northeast Alliance Together (NEAT) and Mattie Rhodes Center have welcomed new Community Engagement Coordinator and Americorps VISTA Christina Gonzalez to the Historic Northeast community.
For the next year, Gonzalez will work with NEAT to help engage the community and build strong relationships.
“What I am really here to do is just be in the weeds, so to speak, and really just be involved and form relationships with community members,” Gonzalez said. “I want to branch out and engage the refugee population.”
Gonzalez came to Kansas City from her home in Atalinto, California. She said that after graduating from Iowa State University, she searched for a position in law enforcement but was unable to land a job. As her search continued, NEAT Executive Director Mary Cyr found Gonzalez’s resume and encouraged her to apply for the Community Engagement Position in the Northeast.
“I do want to continue on to get my Masters degree, and I do want to become a foreign service officer, (but) I thought this was a good opportunity,” Gonzalez said.
After a Skype interview and further contact, Gonzalez was offered the job and has been in the Northeast for about a month. Since she has been in Kansas City, Gonzalez has met several different community members and has developed her ideas for engagement.
“I want to start with mosques and branch out from there; and I want to start with the Somali community,” Gonzalez said.
Originally from Southside Chicago, Gonzalez said she feels extremely welcome and at home in the neighborhood.
“I’ve felt so welcomed…When I got here it was completely different from what I thought I was going to find…,” Gonzalez said. “Here there is a big Latin community and in Chicago there was also a big Latin community, and I just kind of feel at home.”
As her year progresses Gonzalez is looking forward to executing her ideas for community engagement.