The DHF hires organizers from low-income working class communities and trains them using a grassroots organizing model. Natural leaders are encouraged and developed through their participation in community projects. After participating in a series of house meetings, community residents hold an assembly and vote to establish their own organization. These neighborhood organizations and assess their neighborhoods and communities, analyze the problems that affect them locally, and set priorities for improvements.
Their neighborhood committees make a plan for direct action. With the participation of neighborhood volunteers, they accomplish the projects they have prioritized. Through the participation in these community projects, natural leaders develop their leadership skills, and use their leadership to continue organizing around issues and tackling the problems that affect them most.
Our current community organizations in the Central San Joaquin Valley have labeled their organization Vecinos Unidos (United Neighbors). Four strategic priority areas have been identified by the seven community organizations of Vecinos Unidos:
Civic Engagement: Community members must be organized, trained, and informed. Through their participation in community projects they learn leadership skills, team work and advocacy and become engaged in the democratic process.
Health & Environment: Healthy environments create healthy people. All people should have access to health care, healthy food, recreational opportunities, and clean air, water and land.
Education & Youth Development: Family and parent engagement is the key to educational improvements and academic success. When parents are organized to work with other parents, youth, school agencies and the community, drop out and incarceration rates can be reduced.
Economic Development: All people should have access to financial services and basic financial literacy education. Financial systems should be designed to uplift rather than oppress disenfranchised communities. Communities need to be educated to prevent predatory financial practices.
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