LIFTing for good in New York City

By LIFT on April 29, 2015

Categories: First Person Perspective, Real Stories

At the start of my first semester at The City College in Harlem, I knew I wanted to become more involved on campus and in my community. The idea of assisting others and contributing to a greater cause crossed my mind a lot. As I searched online for a good fit (in relation to my major), I wasn’t finding much that connected to my interests. After speaking to student advisors at my school, I was directed to LIFT. I didn’t know what LIFT was about or what kind of work it did, and after my initial research I didn’t think it would be a good fit–I didn’t see how the type of work that LIFT did would benefit me.

I started to think that I had dismissed LIFT too soon, so I explored LIFT’s website, reading blogs and testimonies from past Advocates and LIFT Members. After this “deeper dive,” I came to understand that LIFT is tackling real life issues of victims of structural violence every day. At that moment, I realized that I wanted to be a part of this movement. I call LIFT a movement because this is the exact kind of work our country needs–passionate and involved community members are paramount for disadvantaged communities. I realized that if I was to get my feet wet and join the fight to end poverty, alongside other life obstacles, that I should do it with this organization.

Involvement in the community is extremely important to me as I intend to one day launch my own nonprofit organization that assists people in disadvantaged spaces in Latin America and African nations. I love helping people and I want to be able to help and give every person the opportunity to a fair shot at success; where you’re born shouldn’t determine what you can achieve.

Poverty and New York City are rarely in the same sentence, but LIFT recognizes poverty as a huge problem and is fighting to end it. Now that is awesome. This type of advocacy work is encouraging to a lot of people and gives me a sense of accountability because I am from urban areas that are a result of structural inequalities like poverty, crime, seclusion, police violence, gentrification and poor education systems. I truly felt a genuine connection to LIFT when I joined last semester. Many people understand that there is a problem in low-income communities, but few actually lend a hand to try and fix it. At the beginning of my spring semester I became an Advocate for LIFT, meeting with a few Members twice a week to discuss opportunities regarding future employment, education, and housing.

So far my experience at LIFT has been very rewarding, not only for the Members, but also for myself. LIFT taught me that no matter their circumstance, everyone has a story and deserves to be heard. I have met with members who have a lot of passion, drive and a strong work ethic. These people simply to be given a fair chance at life like everyone else. Although my time with LIFT is almost done, I’ve learned so much and will use the skills I’ve obtained here throughout my personal and professional life.

This post was written by Jamaine Alberto, an Advocate at LIFT-New York.