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My Reasons for Joining the Rewiring Work at Tennyson Center for Children

Hello, my name is Angelica (Angie) Halbert. I am the new Rewiring County Partnership Manager at Tennyson Center for Children. I am a Latina, born in Mexico, who came to the United States with my family when I was about one year old by crossing the Rio Grande River bordering Matamoros, Mexico, and Brownsville, Texas. My family, like many other immigrants, came here to find work and have a better life. Our journey had many unexpected twists and turns including poverty, separation (deportations), trauma, mental health, substance misuse, domestic violence, homelessness, and educational instability. Acculturation and assimilation came at a high cost.

Growing up in California, my parents worked in the fields as farm laborers. This work required long hours in harsh conditions that involved chemical exposure from pesticides and fertilizers. As a child, I too worked in the fields during the summers until I graduated from high school. This was expected, and it’s how we kept a roof over our heads. It taught me the value of hard work and the importance of school. During those summers, in raging temperatures, it was my dad’s hope, humor, storytelling, and optimism that kept me going. He taught me how to survive—a skill that was and is needed when I did/do not fit into Mexican or American culture. We also received support from unexpected sources: teachers, Jefe (bosses), ranchers, our church, ministers, family members, friends, and neighbors. I know that without this support, my family would have gone down a path of more serious harm.

One day very unexpectedly, I came upon Cesar Chavez standing a few yards away from me as I rode my bike near the fields. He caught my attention and so I stopped to listen while he spoke to a group of about 20 farm laborers standing in a field. He identified the problem and asked us to collaborate for change. I didn’t grasp the change he wanted to see until years later when I saw how my father’s working conditions had improved. No one can replace Cesar Chavez, but most of us hope to make positive changes for others in the sense that we want to do the right thing, improve things, and be a part of a solution. Some of us, like myself, —are drawn towards helping families.

Through Rewiring’s investment work and the hard work from its partners, I know we can create long-lasting solutions for families. I learned from seeing others that one person acting alone is not as effective as many of us acting together. It takes all of us collaborating with one another and being thoughtful about making decisions, engaging families, advocating for policy, allocating funding, addressing gaps, and creating community safety nets that can help avert a family crisis. We want to improve care systems and help make community services and supports more accessible to families before a crisis occurs.

These are my reasons for joining the Rewiring work at Tennyson Center for Children. Through Rewiring and its partnerships with leaders and decision-makers, WE ALL have the greatest opportunity to be a part of the solution. Together we can shift and re-shape outmoded strategies to support families and reduce system involvement. It is an honor to be here. I look forward to our partnership!

Let’s get to work!

Angie Halbert
County Partnership Manager

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