Natalia joined the GUH team in 2017. She’s the Growing Up Healthy Director in Faribault.
Where did you grow up, and how long have you lived in Faribault?
I was born in Peru and lived there until I was almost 15. I moved to Faribault and went to high school in Northfield. I’ve lived here for 16 years.
What is your educational and/or work background?
I have a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in social work from Minnesota State in Mankato. Before I worked for HCI, I volunteered with the Greenvale Park Community School, the PLUS program, and the LINK Center. I’m a former TORCH student.
Why did you take this job with GUH?
I grew up in this community, and I would like to see other youth and other immigrant families have the same opportunities I had. I understand some of the struggles they face.
What are your main job responsibilities?
Community outreach and organizing, attending meetings with partners and stakeholders, leading evenings in the park (pre-COVID), connecting families to resources and advocacy.
What do you like most about the job?
It allows me to get to know the people in the community and build those relationships, but at same time build relationships with systems and people in leadership. I truly enjoy that. When we are out in the neighborhoods, we often get the opportunity to know people on a more intimate level and learn their stories. That has been fascinating and inspiring to me.
What’s the most challenging part of your job?
There are not enough resources to help some families, like with housing. Sometimes there’s not a quick and easy solution, and I go back to my house thinking about those families.
What are your hopes and dreams for the community where you work?
I would like for everyone in the community to feel like they are treated with the dignity and respect that they deserve, from everybody at all levels. We try to do our best to make sure that people’s needs are met, and that they are able to reach their full potential – that’s my dream, that everybody feels like they have the opportunities to be who they want to be.
What do you do for fun?
I love dancing. When I had more time, I was part of a Peruvian traditional dance group from the Twin Cities, and I was part of the Aztec dance group in Northfield.