Citlalli Toscano is a small town girl who gives her heart to her town of Delano.
If she’s not volunteering at food distributions, you’ll find her working with children with disabilities, going to school to become a teacher, or running her own cake business.
Toscano, born in Guadalajara, Mexico, came to the United States at the age of seven and has been living in Delano ever since. She recently graduated from California State University, Bakersfield and got her bachelor’s degree in liberal studies. Toscano is finishing up her credentials so she can become a special education teacher.
“I am currently working as an instructional aide for speech in McFarland with elementary kids,” said Toscano. “I love this because I do have a nephew with Down Syndrome so that’s what basically guided me in that direction and because of that I’ve gotten the opportunity to volunteer as well for the Special Olympics in Kern County.”
Toscano volunteers at the Special Olympics at the Delano Police Department.
“I also volunteer at the special Olympics for individuals with any learning disabilities,” said Toscano. “We meet during the week one or two times. Right now with this pandemic, we meet through Zoom, but we do little activities and fundraisers. It’s a really fun experience, too. I do want to start volunteering with the Delano Police because I know they have been trying to do a lot of stuff for the community.”
When Toscano was in high school, she worked at a cold storage and that opened her eyes to what the community had to do to earn their money.
“To me that was very insightful because you have people who wake up super early, prepare their lunch, go to work, and it’s not easy standing in a line and trying to pack grapes and having to lift heavy boxes,” said Toscano.
Living in such a diverse community and knowing that a lot of families here in Delano are immigrants and work in the fields is what motivated her to volunteer.
“I think it’s having that background of coming from an immigrant family and seeing how this whole community is people who work in the fields and knowing it’s always a struggle,” said Toscano. “I think just finding the smallest things where you can give back, it may seem like you aren’t doing much but you are. I also try to help out as much as I can because of what my parents taught me and don’t do it because you are expecting something, but because you want to do it.”
When this pandemic started, Toscano wanted to give back to her community and saw the opportunity to do so. She started volunteering with the United Farm Workers Foundation in Delano by giving out free meals, prepared and donated by local restaurants, to the locals at the Forty Acres.
“I saw a social media post that they needed volunteers, so I reached out to them because I wanted to help and ever since then, I’ve been volunteering there and helping out as much as I can,” said Toscano. “I wanted to help out our community because it’s not easy working in agriculture. It’s an honorable job and I wanted to help our immigrants in our community.”
Doing her duty by volunteering and helping the community during these difficult times has been one of the best experiences she has had, Toscano said.
“It makes me feel happy knowing that you’re doing this out of your heart and you’re not expecting anything in return, and I think that is one of the most important things,” said Toscano. “It’s very fulfilling when they express that gratitude towards you, and honestly, it fills a lot of happiness in me.”
On top of going to school and volunteering, she also has a small cake business.
“I wasn’t planning on doing it, but I had a lot of supportive friends and family members who wanted me to do it and told me I had the skills,” said Toscano. “I never went to school for that, but this is something that I really enjoy and is therapeutic for me, so I started baking cakes and decorating. I practiced on my family members and then from there little orders started coming up.”
She always puts her best effort when baking and decorating a cake no matter how small because they are a reflection of her.
“I try to put in all the effort that I can and really push my skills and just put my heart into it because it’s something that I enjoy doing and it’s a reflection of me,” said Toscano. “If I give them something that’s good then I know that I am really trying my best. It’s been pretty fun. It’s something that I enjoy doing and brings me happiness.”
Toscano wants people to know how important it is to give back to your community, especially when it is such a small community like Delano.
“I think it’s important in a community that’s small and growing to try to be together and be strong,” she said. “I also think it’s important to give back and support one another as much as we can.”