It Occurs to Me (05/30/14)

Today, in California and the rest of our nation, it is evident women are setting the tone and paving the way for the future, not just in business, but also in politics, industry, education and other areas.

It’s been happening gradually for a number of years, and rightly so. I always find it interesting to hear or read about the women who came before us and how they sacrificed their jobs, their families, even their lives to make things better for future generations of the female gender. In the process, women’s contributions continue to make society a better place for everyone.

Here in Merced County there are many women from the small unincorporated towns of Le Grand and Delhi to the West Side communities of Los Banos and Dos Palos who are changing policy and taking risks for the betterment of their communities.

Some of those women include Ana Pagan, Lea Hernandez, Rosina Hurtado, Vicky Banagas, UC Merced Chancellor Dorothy Leland, Deidre Kelsey, Susan Walsh, Rosa Barragan, Tatiana Vizcaino-Stewart, Yolanda Pino, Isabel Cabral Johnson, Sol Rivas, Esther Valencia, Lillian Sanchez, Desiree Herrera, Jean Okuye, Rose Mary Parga-Duran, Mireya Cazares, and Maria and Vicky Vega.

I’m sure you can think of others who fit this category.

One I would like to focus on is to Francisca Briones of Delhi. She is someone who does not give up easily. Francisca is one of the organizers of Community Unity, a nonprofit organization that brings Delhi residents together to try to improve the quality of life in their community.

This group meets every month to discuss issues that affect the community and how they can help find solutions or create positive outcomes.

An activity that has been established under the auspices of the Community Unity organization is the annual Multicultural Festival. It has taken place for five years and now attracts more than 3,000 people from throughout the county.

The event brings together members of the community for a day of relaxation, entertainment and sharing of information about community resources.

This festival makes people happy: It’s something for them to do, it creates unity, it brings people – family, friends and neighbors – together and it gives them an opportunity to showcase their talents. Most of all, it shows what the community is made of and how a diverse community can work together.

Anyone who has ever assisted with an event knows it takes a lot of work. That’s where Francisca shines. Even though she has great support from her partner, a committee and volunteers, Francisca is the driver, the motivator and the one who inspires others to get involved and give back to their community.

Just as she saw the need for a community organization to be established, she also saw the need for a positive event in her community, which turned out to be a multicultural festival. As a concerned resident and a local school administrator, Francisca recognized the challenges children and young adults face in this community of 8,000-plus residents. So she found a way of working with community resources to get things done.

Francisca is a longtime resident of Delhi, an educated Latina who stayed in her community. But she didn’t stay just to maintain a full-time job; she got involved and gave back to her community, creating a platform for others so they could voice their opinions and contribute to their community.

Instead of taking a back seat to what she saw happening in her community, negative or otherwise, she decided to make things happen to bring about positive change. In doing this, she has provided an opportunity for others to succeed by showing them what it takes go get things done – developing relationships, building partnerships, being inclusive.

Francisca is a great asset to Delhi and Merced County because she makes it a better place to live for all.