Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
MT. PLEASANT — Ten teenage high school students brought their mission to better the community to the public Thursday night.
“The inspiration of young lives with result in a successful nonprofit,” founding member and president UNIFY Moroni Sanchez said in a well-organized presentation about the fledgling organization.
While UNIFY, is an organization which branches off from IowaWINs, they are becoming an impactful group of their own accord.
IowaWINs President Jeff Fager is excited for the impact he believes UNIFY will create.
According to Fager purposes behind cultivate this next generation group is to infuse the community with fresh ideas and cultivate leadership skills in the next generation.
In an emotional address to the media, Fager boasted in the UNIFY team.
“They are creative energetic, innovative, and organized,” he said. “They just grabbed the ball and ran, and the best thing we can do right now is step out of the way, because the train has left the station and is barreling down the tracks.”
According to Moroni Sanchez, UNIFY seeks to initiate change, which can bring either destruction or growth.
“This organization will bring growth,” he said confidently.
The UNIFY pamphlet, which was available in English and Spanish at Thursday’s event, outlines the goals of change for the organization through this acronym: Uplifting the Needs of Immigrant Families through Youth-leadership.
“We are uplifting the needs of through strengthening the bonds of those in our communities,” the pamphlet reads. “We believe that immigrants and nonimmigrants have a lot to give each other and our community, as well as a lot to receive.”
UNIFY identifies these needs through three categories: opportunity, representational, and human needs.
Thursday’s event focused on representational needs for the community, through an event which invited people from different backgrounds to come together and share their cultures.
As people arrived to the event they were warmly greeted, and given informational pamphlets.
Children were a beautiful representation of unifying the communities.
The youngest in attendance showed up and immediately became best of friends with one another, without a second thought of from where they came.
The children of various ethnicities painted their hand prints on a large Unity Board, colored pictures, enjoyed a bouncy house, and ran around the south end of Central Park laughing.
UNIFY shared their unique dual cultures through blue and yellow cookies, horchata, music, and yard games like three-legged races.
During another teamwork oriented race, Marketing and Grant Writing Board Member Nefi Sanchez could be overheard sharing encouragements with his teammate.
“Watch me, Benny,” he said gently encouraging the poignant example of teamwork through the activity. “Be sure to listen and hear.”
Sal Alaniz assisted in creating a welcoming event through his donations of printed materials.
These 10 teenagers’ faces were plastered with smiles as they saw their aspirations come to life before their eyes.
“I didn’t expect so many people to show up,” an excited Moroni Sanchez said. “We’re just so grateful everything came together so well. Our purpose was completed. We spread the word about our organization.”
UNIFY is prepared to continue the good work of loving their neighbors well in future endeavors in a manner Moroni Shanchez would categorizes as countercultural for their age group.
“There are stereotypes that teenagers are violent, reckless, and drug hungry,” Moroni Sanchez said. “We counter this typical opinion of teenagers.”
These atypical teenagers worked within the human needs identified by their organization through work with the IowaWINs food pantry, and plan to address opportunity needs by helping their fellow classmates through language barriers.
“I have seen classmates in our own schools that struggle with language barriers,” Moroni Sanchez said. “They lack motivation and proper support. They do not have nearly enough support or resources to excel in academic life.”
The first UNIFY event ended as the community seamlessly shifted to listening to the Mt. Pleasant Community band, exploring the community theater information booth, and enjoying delicious P.E.O pie.
Joy, peace, and unity filled the atmosphere as the day waned into evening, and the UNIFY team packed up until next time.