My name is Cristian Marin I am from Whittier California which is in LA County. It has been a blessing to be in the Quad Cities and having a great support team has made it easier to be here. I would like to thank the region and the local churches for making this experience possible and for all the hard work that was done so that we as XPLOR’ s could feel welcome in the Quad Cities.
Working with Quad Cities Interfaith (QCI) has been a unique and life changing experience for me. QCI focuses on faith based community organizing which is a coalition of churches and community groups working together to address justice issues and build leadership in the community in both Iowa/Illinois. Being in QCI has also given me many leadership opportunities like the Gamaliel National Leadership training.
My current project with QCI is the Community ID Campaign. The Community ID Campaign concentrates on getting a government issued photo ID to people in the community who don’t have a valid form of ID. This could range from those displaced by a natural disaster, the elderly, and immigrant families. This ID would give people access to food banks, libraries, opening a bank account, etc. So far we have sent out surveys to measure the need for a Community ID and have got some back. Now we are setting up a meeting to discuss our next steps and plan out the rest of the year.
After finishing up the first half of my XPLOR year I feel grateful to have been given an opportunity like this. I feel like I came into Iowa at the perfect time since I get to see many of the presidential candidates and hear what they have say. It has truly given me a passion for Justice being in this environment and working with QCI. I’ve learned more about what a community organizer does and how they handle situations for example, speaking to a power person or planning an event. I was surprised knowing how much power and influence Iowa has when it comes to politics, like I said I came at the perfect time. One of the most inspiring things for me is driving down River drive and looking to the Mississippi in winter while the sun hits the ice and you being to see the water evaporate into the air. There is a certain beauty almost majestic in way that just completely blows my mind when I see that. I love that scenery and it inspires me every time I pass threw it to know how God can create such a view.
Greetings Upper Midwest and Illinois/Wisconsin Regions of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)!
My name is Sarah Page Jones and I am one of the NBA XPLOR residents living in the Quad Cities. Over the last five months I have been blessed to be a part of this community here. I have learned so much about myself and about the world we are living in. It would not be possible for me to be here in this program if it wasn’t for each individual here in this region! You guys rock!
During my ten months here I spend 30 hours each week at a local nonprofit, Braking Traffik and 6 hours at First Christian Church in Davenport, IA and Braking Traffik. In each of these settings, I am given opportunities to grow in my leadership skills and reflect on the work of social justice. At the church you can find me doing pretty much whatever they need me to do. I do things for the church such as help with Sunday school and youth groups to just helping out singing in the choir some Sundays. I also have helped out in the worship service on Sunday mornings. My housemates and I even lead our own special worship service one Sunday evening to express our own forms of worship that we bring to the table. In the coming months I am excited to start a special Children’s Worship service that will be held during children’s church time. I feel this is a crucial part to developing a love for church when transforming from a child into a youth and furthermore into a young adult. This is a time to start making children aware of why it is important for themselves to be in church not just because their parents are making them or its “just what my family does”. I have a passion to keep our young people in church since so many of my generation have fallen away.
Braking Traffik a nonprofit that is dedicated to eradicating sex trafficking in the Quad City area of Iowa and Illinois. Through education, legislative advocacy and community partnerships, this organization is a mover and shaker in the community and states of Iowa and Illinois. One of the major projects that I am assigned to is Any Kid, Anywhere which is our school program. Each week I am in local area middle and high schools teaching youth about the dangers of human trafficking and why it exists and finally what they can do to help end the demand. If I would have had someone like this come talk to me while I was in high school, I would have been able to make some wiser decisions. With Braking Traffik I have had the chance to meet with local and state task forces that all have a common goal to end human trafficking. I have met with legislators about what they are doing about human trafficking and how we can join together and have a more collaborative effort when it comes to combating human trafficking.
We have been working with our local task force and the DHS (Department of Human Services) to have a training here in the Quad Cities to provide a multidisciplinary approach for Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois. This training will be able to provide multidisciplinary professionals with the next step processes when identifying human trafficking. We feel a majority of the Quad Cities area has had the human trafficking 101 training they are ready for that next step training. If any of you are interested in attending this training, feel free to contact me at Braking Traffik at (563) 468-2381 and I would be glad to talk with you more about this training and get you some registration information. Braking Traffik is doing great work here in the Quad Cities and even throughout most of Eastern Iowa. I am excited to see what is in the future for this organization due to their continued efforts and diligent work.
On a more personal note being a part of this program has been so important to me and my future. Without XPLOR I would still be a bank teller in Appomattox, Virginia not happy with my job and not knowing what to do about it. This program has shown me that I can enjoy my job and I can make a difference! I can change the world one person at a time. My life has done a total 180-degree spin since I left my hometown. I had never lived away from home and here I was moving to Iowa where I knew no one! I now could never see myself returning to my hometown. There is so much work to be done out here in the world and I needed to step away from my normal and what was comfortable to make me to see it. I am so glad I took this leap of faith and joined this program. Again I would like to thank each one of you because without your support of this program this all would not be possible. So thank you, thank you, thank you! You are true rock stars!
Sarah Page Jones
Side bar reflection (requested by region – two, three sentences each)
- what have you learned so far?
In the last five months I feel the most important things I have learned have been about myself. I have learned that I have a serious problem saying NO to people. I have enjoyed learning to be myself because this is a new experience for me because I have always lived with my parents and never really thought on my own. Coming out here has been the best decision that I have ever made. I have learned more than I could have ever imagined.
- What has surprised you?
I seem to surprise myself more and more every day. Living in my hometown I have never really expressed my political views and didn’t feel I had a place to. Living in Iowa I have had the chance to meet several candidates in the 2016 presidential election. I have become passionate about sharing with people why I feel that a certain candidate is more qualified than another and why I feel that this particular candidate is the best fit for the direction our country needs to be going in. This surprises me because I have never felt that I was able to share these views but I know now that I am able to have civil debates about each other’s opinions. Even if we end up agreeing to disagree. #feelthebern J
- What has inspired you?
Everywhere I seem to look I am inspired to continue the great work I am doing here in the Quad Cities. The victims that stand up and tell their stories about how they were trafficked and why they don’t want this to happen to anyone else. The kids at Cedar Memorial Christian Church that just want to be loved and encouraged. My neighborhood that gets a bad reputation for being a bad neighborhood but are really just trying to survive in this world. The broken system that people run into every day. We are here to stand hand and hand and not just to give an unwanted hand out. I am inspired by the change I do see happening in this world.