Generosity: Learning to serve the community together
Pablo Mazariegos and the work of Unidos en Compasión
When Pablo Mazariegos traveled from Guatemala to the United States as a child, he had no idea he would one day retrace those steps for a documentary film project. Today, Pablo uses his masters in Marriage and Family Therapy from Reformed Theological Seminary as a counselor for the City of Chattanooga. He also moonlights as a videographer. With support from the Unidos en Compasión Giving Circle, he’s combining his full- and part-time work to create an autobiographical film that will be a resource for the immigrant children he works with in the public schools.
“As someone who engages with a lot of immigrant children and adults, I often see firsthand the social and emotional impact that some of these families feel when they’re away from their family,” Pablo explains. This documentary, he says, “is geared to foster hope in the lives of children and youth, as many of them feel like their future feels unpredictable.”
Pablo’s film is supported, in part, by Unidos en Compasión, which is one of several “Giving Circles” facilitated by The Generosity Trust. In Giving Circles, like-minded donors pool financial resources and decide where to donate the funds. The members of the Unidos en Compasión Giving Circle direct their grants to nonprofits and churches serving Chattanooga’s Latino communities—including our sizeable Guatemalan population. The Generosity Trust hosts several Giving Circles, each with a specific focus.
Pablo’s life story, his current vocation, and his church make him a valuable part of Unidos en Compasión. In his work for the City of Chattanooga, he meets with children who are new to the United States and helps them process the changes they’re experiencing. Many of them have emigrated from Guatemala, like Pablo.
In addition to his job, Pablo serves the Latino community through his church. He is a part of New City Eastlake, which is situated in a neighborhood with a substantial Latino presence. Because of their context, Pablo said it was a “no brainer” for the church to get involved with Unidos en Compasión.
Through his work, Pablo has been able to identify needs among the students he serves and share them with the members of the giving circle. In this way, he sees his role as “giving voice” to those young people. For example, Pablo became aware of a need at Howard High School, which has the county’s largest Latino student population. Through a Giving Circle grant his church received, the congregation of New City Eastlake provided space heaters during the winter.
“It always came back to family”
The space heaters were a tangible gift that met an important short-term need, but Unidos en Compasión is focused on long-term needs as well. That’s why they are helping support Pablo’s documentary work, which is another way he is helping newcomer students give voice to what they are experiencing as immigrant children missing their parents.
When Pablo talks with his students, he finds the major changes in their lives can create internal turbulence that inhibits their school work. He says, “A lot of the children that I engage with want to learn English, they want to get acclimated with the education system, with the life here in the US, but often what stands in their way is the trauma that maybe they experienced when they migrated or the fact that maybe their mom or dad isn’t here.”
Pablo hopes his students see his life story as a way to process their own experiences. His film, which he says rests on the universal longing children feel to be near their parents, also incorporates testimonials from students Pablo has worked with in the past. In the future, newcomer students will see these stories as a sign of hope for their own lives.
This film is an act of love, because to capture his story he had to relive it—the good and the bad. He got to visit his family in Guatemala, a treat that was sweetened because he was able to bring some American friends with him and show them his family and country. The film crew then visited the US-Mexico border, where they witnessed pain and vulnerability that deeply impacted them.
In all their travels, Pablo said the crew heard one thing: people just wanted to be near family. This reflects a deep desire for familial connection that makes many immigrant experiences so conflicted. The joy of being in a new place intermingles with the pain of missing family. Through his film, Pablo looks forward to helping Chattanooga’s Latino immigrant community process and reflects on those feelings.
“A double win”
When The Generosity Trust first approached Pablo about getting involved with Unidos en Compasión, he wasn’t sure: “I was on the fence. It’s almost embarrassing to say that because I love serving in the community.”
At first, he was not sure how it even worked. That’s because Giving Circles are a somewhat new concept for The Generosity Trust. Nonetheless, giving circles are a natural outgrowth of the spirit of generosity in response to God’s goodness in our lives. Giving together for greater impact is augmenting donor-directed giving offered through TGT’s close to 600 Donor-Advised funds.
After he joined the giving circle, Pablo was glad he did. For one thing, he was blown away by the power of collective giving. Since the fall of 2021, the members of Unidos en Compasión have contributed gifts and voted to donate over $21,000 to non-profits, ministries, and churches serving the Latino communities in our area.
But it’s not just the financial achievements that make Pablo excited. Unidos en Compasión is also bringing together leaders in Chattanooga’s Latino community. He says, “One of the things that makes this group very special is that it’s not only giving to a cause, but it’s also building a leadership group. Everyone together is learning to serve the community together, and that’s a double win.”
Because the donors of a Giving Circle are also the ones voting on where to grant funds, the group must collaborate. That’s what’s happening in Unidos en Compasión. “Not only are we giving to the community, but through that process we’re learning to work together, and that’s really important to establish that sense of Latino leadership and Latino growth. That’s really important for our community. We need that.”
We encourage others in our community to support this giving circle. If you would like to contribute to the good work being done through Unidos en Compasión, Click here: https://generositytrust.
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