There’s beauty in the struggle.

By Jacqueline Ojeda Herrera – TOLA Fall 2017

How could anyone romanticize the poverty, illness, and hardship that my community faces? Through TOLA I have come to grasp the meaning of that “beauty” every day.

TOLA has introduced me to a network of young people who care about our community. They don’t just sympathize with the struggles they see in our community, they are taking action to ultimately solve problems. The program has taught me how to organize others to effectively educate Stockton residents and call our community to action. We ventured into the valley heat with nothing more than a clipboard of unsigned papers, water bottle, and real facts about the dangers of drinking sugary beverages. With these materials, we were able to make connections with complete strangers and have serious conversations about our community’s health. I’ve learned far more from all of these conversations than any classroom lecture.

Our ability to be open with one another, to have hope, and to work towards making life in our community better can be a struggle. Yet the beauty lies in the people who I work with — who despite their personal hardships always lend a hand to those in need. I thank TOLA for giving me the opportunity to witness that every day.