At United Way for Greater Austin, we bring people, ideas, and resources together to fight poverty. We know that real change happens when we Live United and we value the lived experience and extensive expertise of parents & caregivers.
One of the ways we make this happen is through our Family Leadership Council led by Paola Silvestre Porras, Director of Family Pathways at United Way ATX. The Family Leadership Council aims to create a pipeline for parents with lived experience to become community leaders and serve on commission boards, city council, and more. It is important for parents to be part of the decision-making process that affects them directly. The Family Leadership Council is designed to help these parents be agents of change in their own communities.
One of these parents from the inaugural cohort of the Family Leadership Council is Amina Makamba. Immigrating from the Congo in 2016, Amina gave birth to her triplet daughters three months early, the very next day after arriving in Austin, Texas.
“I came here in December of 2016. When I got to Austin, the next day I had the triplets. One of my girls was one pound when she was born and stayed in the hospital for five months,” Amina said. “When my kids were born I didn’t have any family here, so I had to stay in the shelter and work to go through the [social service system].”
Parents are nominated to participate in the Family Leadership Council by our Community Investment Grant partners with the goal of amplifying the value and expertise of parents and caregivers, expanding access to tools and resources that parent leaders can use to influence systems change, and fostering a family-centered approach that reflects the community we serve.
After being connected with Foundation Communities, Amina was nominated to take part in the Family Leadership Council.
“The biggest thing I learned from the Family Leadership Council is how I can impact the community,” Amina said. “Sometimes you go through a situation and then you can help other people not have to go through the same thing you did.”
December 2020 marks the four year anniversary of Amina coming to Austin and the 4th birthday of her beautiful daughters Divine, Gift, and Testimony. Amina now works as an accountant and lives at a Foundation Communities property with her three girls. She is passionate about sharing her story and how she can pave the way for new mothers, who like herself, came to Austin and don’t know where to start.
“Working with United Way really opened my eyes,” Amina said. “Sometimes I feel like me, myself, I am nobody – I can’t change anything. But United Way shows us and tells us no, your story has an impact – it is not nothing. That is something that I love, and I really want to give back to the community.”
Parents in the Family Leadership Council are compensated for their time and are seen as consultants for United Way ATX and our partners in the development of our strategic plans. To learn more about the Family Leadership Council, email Paola Silvestre Porras at Paola.Silvestre@uwatx.org.