Holding Space: Marisol Santos-Perez
I don’t live in Rainier Beach right now, but this is where my community is. My family owned and lived in a house right down the road from here when I was really young, but things happened and as our family grew it was cheaper to live in Maple Valley, so that’s where we moved. I always stayed super connected to this community though, especially through school. I went to Dunlap for elementary school, and then went to Rainier Beach High School for a while before transferring to Seattle Urban Academy for my last two years. That’s when I started getting involved with the Union Gospel Mission (UGM).
UGM is really where I got my passion for serving the community. Everybody there showed me so much real, genuine love. They were giving me things that my own family couldn’t provide for me. If I needed food, they were there. If I needed clothes they made it happen. Anything that I needed, they made it happen, and for me that’s where it was like, “How do you love me so much without even knowing me?” They taught me about unconditional love.
I didn’t know nothing about RBAC before I started working here. I was a volunteer with Culture at the Emerald City Bible Fellowship Church, and that’s where I met Mr. Davis. One day he just introduced himself and asked me who I was and what I want to do in life. When I got done telling him, he was like, “Well, we have an opportunity coming up at RBAC, and I would love for you to be a part of it.”
That was so exciting for me because I had never gotten paid for what I was doing and never expected to be paid for doing what I loved — which was serving the community. I was hired as a Youth Engagement Worker, so I was helping plan our Wellness Core classes and being part of the System Change class. Now I’m one of the Circle Keeper Leads, which involves planning all the Circles that happen at the Community Healing Spaces.
I love the Healing Circles because, to me, they’re an example of how we can show unconditional love to each other.
I love the Healing Circles because, to me, they’re an example of how we can show unconditional love to each other. The Circles create space for conversation, so if there was to be a conflict between, for example, an apartment manager and a resident about not being able to pay rent, someone could facilitate a Circle. Rather than just evicting that renter, they could come together in a safe, welcoming space to come up with a solution. And that’s just one way we’re working to fight displacement.
I’m the other perfect example of how RBAC fights displacement. Not only is Mr. Davis making sure I have enough hours to move into my own apartment, he’ll create an action plan with me to make sure I’m financially stable enough to continue living there.
It takes a whole village to make things happen on an individual level or an organization level. We need people that have the same values and same vision for our community, so that we can tackle issues together. That kind of partnership benefits us in so many ways, like being in community, creating more job opportunities, creating more resources in the neighborhood for future generations.
I’m doing everything that I can so one day my future kids don’t have to worry about being displaced.
I’m doing everything that I can so one day my future kids don’t have to worry about being displaced. Not just my kids but my family and my friends’ kids. Them not having to worry about that kind of stuff would feel like justice to me. It would feel secure. It’s nice knowing that what I’m doing is gonna benefit future generations of this community. Just by showing the way and setting a good example.