Community Member Spotlight: Charline Nuñez
Shortly after finishing high school, Charline Nuñez organized a community youth group to help keep local kids engaged and involved. “We did car washes down the street and used the money we raised to take the kids on activities each weekend,” she recalls. “It gave them something productive to do, versus being idle in the streets. We wanted to expand their knowledge base and make them see different things.”
The desire to make positive changes in her community continued into Nuñez’s adulthood. Today, she is a Learning By Doing core group facilitator and Leadership Group member for the Best Start Broadway-Manchester community. Despite being a busy mother of two and having recently completed her Master of Social Work, Nuñez remains as dedicated to helping others as she was when she was a teenager.
“Charline has found creative ways to keep the community engaged,” says Joaquin Calderon, program officer for Best Start Broadway-Manchester. “It was her idea to develop a DVD resource guide explaining Best Start services available to the community. The DVD was made in English and Spanish, and hundreds of copies are available to the public at local libraries.”
Nuñez, whose roots are in Belize, is hailed by her colleagues for her ability to bring together diverse groups within the same community. “I see her as a leader,” continues Calderon. He describes her efforts to organize a community play day at a new pocket park. “Some community members were against the park because of illicit activities at a nearby intersection. Charline did everything from organize the agenda, get vendors to come, invite speakers and reach out to community residents. She wanted people to feel that the park was their space. It’s amazing to see her build bridges.”
It takes a certain degree of skill — and considerable energy — to help people come together for a unified cause, in this case, improving their community. Nuñez impressed JoAnn Smith, a Leadership Group member with Broadway-Manchester, with her boundless energy.
Before Best Start, Nuñez was a program manager of youth opportunities at Public Allies Los Angeles, where she established relationships with youth and senior groups, as well as some local churches. Her work with Best Start helped her rekindle those connections. “When it came to organizing the community at Best Start, I was able to use the capacity-building aspect of my experience,” notes Nuñez.
The days of charity car washes are a memory, but the experience taught Nuñez that engaging with a community often leads to lasting social change. She adds that the reason she stays involved with Best Start is “wanting to be a part of the change in my community, bringing services and improving the lives of the people here. That’s the basic premise of what I do, no matter where I am.”