“We Forgot to Believe.”Leer en español
When she was a child, Jessely Chaparro shared a single-wide trailer with four other families near the town of Hudson in northeast Colorado, where her father worked on a dairy farm milking cows. After her family had moved to nearby Lochbuie, she remembers being segregated from other students in her class when teachers assumed she needed separate treatment because she spoke Spanish at home.
Navigating the inconveniences and biases of life in an immigrant family in Colorado turned out to be good training for the current phase of Chaparro’s life. The 22-year-old was hired as an intern for The Trust’s Community Partnerships effort early in the year, and was acting as a contract organizer for the northeast Colorado region by year’s end. Her job is to help guide people living in communities in the area through a process of collectively deciding priorities for making their community a better place to live, and acting on them.
“It’s been humbling how many great people you get to meet, so many incredible individuals that make their community so great,” she says.
The three communities where she works are different from each other: Fort Morgan, a company town that has seen an influx of refugees working at the Cargill meatpacking plant, and has at times struggled to integrate its diverse residents; Lago Vista Mobile Home Park, a community outside of Loveland; and Yuma, an agricultural hub on the Eastern Plains.
One of the biggest challenges she’s encountered has been in encouraging people in these communities to be ambitious in their vision for their home and their lives.
“I came to realize I’m the same way,” she says. “It’s hard for me to dream big because at some point or another you’re taught not to dream at all. We forget to believe. We forget to imagine and think big.”