This month, Just Communities extends a special thank you to Jack Rivas who, after nine years of service, steps down from our Board of Directors. Jack was one of the very first people to volunteer for Just Communities after we opened our office in 2001. He participated in the very first facilitator training we held and then served on staff for our first CommUnity Leadership Institute in 2003 and our first Institute for Equity in Education in 2005. Based on his sincere passion for social justice and his deep commitment to our programs, we asked him to join our Board of Directors in November 2005.
Jack jumped right in an quickly took on the role of co-chair, leading us through a challenging separation from our then national affiliation with the National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ). Year after year, Jack kept saying yes to every challenge we asked him to help us weather. He has given what we hope every nonprofit board member gives - his time, his treasure, and his talent - in order to help Just Communities become the critical community resource it is today. But a long list of activities and projects couldn't sum up Jack's contribution or the difference that contribution has made.
What has impressed me most about Jack is the absolute lack of ego with which he has served all these years. He has been an inspiration, a mentor, and a friend to so many of us at Just Communities. He has modeled patience and a life-long commitment to learning and growth. Jack loves to quote one of our colleagues, Billie Mayo, who says, "I have not arrived, I've just agreed to go on the journey." To me, Jack is the epitome of this sentiment. For as long as he has done this work, and as much has he has given, he understands that he has not yet arrived and he keeps agreeing to go.
We are all so thankful for Jack's service on the board and even more thankful that though his board term ends, he will continue to be involved as a program facilitator and volunteer in so many other ways. To give you a sense of the impact Jack has made, we reached out to a small handful of the many lives he has touched through his work with Just Communities (see below). In fact, if you have your own Jack Rivas story, please share it on Just Communities' Facebook page by clicking here. And, if you haven't yet had the good fortune to meet or work with Jack, just stay involved with Just Communities and it will only be a matter of time.
"Jack has been such an incredible mentor for me. He treated me as an equal when social justice work was new to me. He helped me integrate parts of me I felt weak and shy about into my whole self. And most of all, he never complained when we accidentally dressed identically."- Vinny Prell
"Since the beginning of my student years at UCSB, I consistently referred to Jack as my trusted adviser. My senior year I came to Jack in hopes he could help me find a "big girl job." He enthusiastically shared with me the social justice work he did with Just Communities, and without hesitation, I wanted to be part of it. He connected me to Just Communities and a position which laid the foundation to my career path, as well as help me find my passion and shape my identity as an agent of change. During my growth, I admired Jack's unwavering commitment to promoting justice, and he empowered me to feel as though I had the ability to make an impact towards causes that felt bigger than me. Not only has Jack made invaluable contributions to Just Communities and the community at large, his influence has been exponential in encouraging people like myself to engage in efforts for social change. Over 10 years since Jack came into my life, I have him to thank for his mentorship, allyship,friendship, and becoming one who I consider family." -Vanessa Solis
Click here to write your own thank you or story about Jack on Facebook