Thanks to grant from a donor-advised fund at the Maine Community Foundation, Mano en Mano is launching its first community advocacy program and recently hired Julie Olbrantz as Community Advocate. The program will formally launch with Julie’s arrival in Milbridge on April 14.
This project will promote leadership development opportunities and organize members of the Latino community to self-advocate for issues that are determined by themselves. Initially, Mano en Mano will develop several community advisory boards and host workshops and skill-building activities to prepare Latino community members to seek changes in both local and statewide contexts. These advisory boards will determine issues and with assistance from Mano en Mano, will directly seek changes from those in power.
In the long term, we hope to reduce the need for Mano en Mano’s social services – and therefore the dependency of the Latino community on Mano en Mano to meet its basic needs. By providing leadership development opportunities to a small, but committed group of community members, we hope that we will cause ripple effects that foster change in the larger community. Finally, we also will be developing plans to help local organizations and agencies be more prepared to serve immigrants and English language learners.
Julie grew up in Asheville, North Carolina, and holds a degree in Human Ecology from College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine. In 2012, she was an intern at Mano en Mano and an instructor with the Maine Migrant Education Program. As a Community Advocate, she will work hand in hand with community members to help realize their goals and develop leadership skills. Julie has spent time doing humanitarian aid work and human rights abuse documentation on the US/Mexico border with No More Deaths, holding workshops with working street children in Chiapas, Mexico and improving her equestrian skills in southwestern Bolivia. For her senior project in college, Julie interviewed folks who had been recently deported from the United States to Nogales, Mexico about their experiences, drawing charcoal portraits if those she interviewed and simultaneously investigating graphic journalism as a form of activism. The resulting illustrated documentary focused her interests on education, social justice, and migration. Most recently, Julie instructed five to 28-day flat-water canoeing courses with at-risk youth and school groups in Florida for the leadership school Outward Bound. Outside of work, Julie can be found hiking, paddling, dancing cumbia, making envelopes, practicing viola, baking, and traveling. She is a certified Wilderness First Responder and is fluent in Spanish.
On behalf of the Board of Directors, please join us in welcoming Julie to Mano en Mano’s staff!