The newest addition to Delano’s Business Center on Main Street is Loud for Tomorrow’s first official office. Last week the nonprofit opened its doors to celebrate and plan the next steps with staff and the community.
Attendees were encouraged to participate by sharing ideas on how to use empty rooms and how best to decorate. Some ideas included a wellness and healing room, dedicated to bringing stress levels down. There were discussions of having a resource corner or wall with informational pamphlets about Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) and free condoms, Narcan, menstrual products, and other items that are similar. Currently, there is a free giveaway table with donated hygiene products.
If there are any local artists interested in painting murals in collaboration with the nonprofit please contact their office. They are seeking artists for several exciting projects that are promised to be colorful and with consideration to honor Delano’s history.
Julianna Munoz Torres, a leader for Loud4TMRW, explained that young adults can now spend a day purchasing boba or lunch at a local restaurant before stopping at the organization’s office to enjoy each other’s company. One of the most important results of having an office is the space becoming a center for youth to be encouraged to seek help and be empowered.
“Our friends hang out all the time, sometimes we go to get boba and we don’t want to go home. We want to continue to hang out with each other, but we might not necessarily want to go to a park and sit at a bench- especially in the valley heat that’s not always the best. We have a safe space now…” Munoz Torres stated.
Munoz Torres recanted the time when Loud for Tomorrow held an event for students to finish their college applications and the group had to meet at Starbucks due to a lack of public spaces.
Jose Orellana is one of the Co-founders of Loud for Tomorrow. He remembered fondly the start of their journey in comparison to where they’re at now, in the new office. They have also come a long way since the pandemic and having to meet virtually. For Orellana, there’s a secret ingredient to their success.
“The secret ingredient was that it was young people from the community, who were born and raised here, who migrated and lived here, and went to schools- and their lives were the Central Valley- we knew the hardships. We also knew the opportunity that we had,” stated Orellana.
A combination of community support and adult allies, or “intergenerational organizing” as Orellana described it, was necessary for Loud for Tomorrow’s current dynamic. His advice to young people who are inspired to do community organizing and advocacy work is to never be afraid to ask for help.
Being able to be civically involved is vital for Loud for Tomorrow according to Orellana. That’s how they got their start.
“We started the seed of Loud for Tomorrow with voter engagement, that’s how we got started. We’re really proud of this phone bank because it’s completely independent. We own everything from our scripts, our contacts, and how we’re running our phone banks,” Orellana explained.
Imelda Meza Torres attended last week’s celebration. She described her experience calling Delano residents through the phone banks as difficult at first, but then she found things she could relate to with the individuals on the other line which always sparked conversations.
“It was difficult for me to talk to people outside of school, but once we did get engaged it was really easy to spark communication about voting and registration. It was really encouraging seeing how the community was so focused on the wellbeing of the youth, and when it came to voting they were down to answer any questions I had,” Torres said.
Torres explained that the playful and supportive work environment Loud for Tomorrow cultivates makes the phone bank rewarding for young people. When group members have a “bad call” there is a protocol in place and displayed on the wall that promotes taking a break and doing a self-care activity.
The phone banks in the new office are important to Loud for Tomorrow because they help influence election results, and they have goals to impact the 2024 presidential election. Other local ways to make an impact include volunteering with one of Loud for Tomorrow’s programs like CORE.
“We have an internship called CORE, centering wellness through education around substance use and dependency and we have a group of young interns from all around Kern County who are learning skills for harm reduction,” said Orellana.
Loud for Tomorrow has grown over the past five years, and they have garnered national attention. For example, they were invited to the white house to celebrate the release of the Flamin Hot movie.
Whether it’s word of mouth or digital flyers on social media, Loud for Tomorrow knows how to engage with youth and help them feel connected to their community. Loud for Tomorrow’s website displays its mission statement: “Building YOUTH POWER to transform our schools and communities through civic engagement, advocacy, & community healing.” The group has a presence on high school and college campuses.
Stay tuned on their social media and website for dates of events and for more information about their official Open House.