EMPOWERED but first, healing.

By Daniela Velazquez

A note from Coffee&Chisme: Community submissions are now live! Welcome to our very first Coffee&Chisme Contributor, Daniela Velazquez! Below she shares her story with mental health, navigating the world of non profits, and creating community change. Read more about Daniela on our Contributor page, here. And check our Contribute page if you have a story you’d like to share! Without further ado here is:

EMPOWERED, but first, healing.

I’m excited to share that I’ve partnered up with Latinx Therapy and the Latina Coalition of Silicon Valley, to provide some much needed healing for the collective through our Therapy Grant fund for BI&WoC+.

But first, let’s talk about burnout, dismantling white supremacy, and healing. What does that mean anyway?

My career started in the nonprofit sector. As a Latinx fundraising professional, my challenge was to dismantle white supremacy in the world of philanthropy. This, of course, is no small task, and it left me feeling a sense of guilt that made me extremely unhappy, anxious, and experiencing severe burnout.

I was inspired to transition out of the nonprofit sector after witnessing the bravery of Janeen Mendoza’s, This is 31, blog. It breaks my heart to share that this was the first time I felt seen in the nonprofit sector, and in talking to others, our experiences of ageism, racism, and gaslighting by our peers are all too common. Maybe that begs the question…why not quit? Well, as in any toxic relationship, one has to address the trauma, face hard truths, let go of fear and love themselves enough to walk away because ultimately, we deserve better.

Dr. Akilah Cadet recently asked, “What might you lose from being an accomplice?” and I was overwhelmed, seeing in a flash the abundance of joy that I experienced since resigning and finding myself in a liminal space. By making this decision, I sacrificed stability, a steady income, and a career path that I had worked towards for the last four years. Yet, to my surprise, I gained so much more. The loving act of choosing myself and staying true to my values has made all the difference. I gained clarity, started living in alignment, and investing in myself by pursuing my passions for diversity, equity, inclusion, and healing as a mental health advocate. 

Just like in Cleo Wade’s Heart Talk poem ‘What I lost and what I gained’, here’s what I’ve gained:

I was awarded a scholarship to Change Cadet’s group coaching for non-black women, a three-month series of workshops specifically for non-Black women who want to deepen their understanding of allyship and transition into becoming an accomplice by integrating anti-racism work into every aspect of their lives. 

I realized I had to go inward in order to go bigger and was awarded Alex Elle’s Healing Your Heart course, which supported my healing journey through this transition. 

I had the absolute pleasure to work as a part-time consultant for Jabu HR Inc, supporting their clients’ recruiting efforts as a diversity sourcing consultant. Working alongside Jabu Dayton and Lesley Alegria transformed me as a professional. I’ve found a renewed purpose which is to increase access to opportunities for underrepresented groups through recruiting. 

I was admitted into the ELLA program, a six-month professional development program where I gained a network of professional women that support each other in the advancement of civic engagement and leadership. Also, this is the reason for this special project! My team and I will be hosting a series of workshops (June 8 & June 10) with Latinx Therapy to promote the personal transformation of BI&WoC+ in the workplace by addressing themes of burnout, setting healthy boundaries, and advocating for yourself. Additionally, we have launched the Therapy Grant Fund for BI&WoC+ where 100% of the funds will go to recipients who will receive access to three therapy sessions to address either of the following:

  1. Empowering and nurturing self-worth/trust: Leaving a toxic work environment
  2. Advocating for yourself: Negotiating a promotion

None of this would have been possible without the support and healing I received through therapy. My decision to invest in therapy took me months of research. In addition,  it took me around two years before actually committing to doing the work. I started seeing a therapist at Golden Gate Integral Counseling Center, paying $40/session. A year-and-a-half later, I transitioned with my therapist to the Mindful Center, and I won’t shut up about the benefits from therapy. It pays off to invest in yourself! Aware of the stigmas around mental health, I want to encourage those who feel comfortable sharing their therapy #wins to do so. That’s how it happened for me. My dear friend Julianne Bell, shared the benefits of therapy in her journey, and in doing so, her bravery destigmatized mental health for me.

I had so much fear behind my decision to resign during an unstable economy, but I loved myself enough to take a leap of faith. My guiding mantra at the time came from Heart Talk, and I found myself repeating ‘I can. I will. I am deserving.’ The level of self-trust and self-love cultivated in the last six months has been transformational. Reflecting on the opportunities that I received and how fruitful each one has been fills me with deep joy. At the center of it all, the pattern I’ve noticed is how I have been showing up authentically daily. This led to creating spaces that encourage me to shine and uplift others. In light of this, I share a part of my story to encourage others to reclaim their power and SHINE!

How can we grow together if we do not water ourselves?
Water Me’ by Cristina Martinez

*For those unfamiliar with the different ways nonprofits uphold white supremacy, check out the blogs featured on Community Centric Fundraising. Below you’ll find links to some of my personal faves.

Community Centric Fundraising

Additional Resources

To Read more of Daniela’s work…be sure to subscribe below!

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