Statement of Purpose: Ten Strands is introducing its staff through statements of purpose from each member that reveals the motivations and ambitions of their work. Today, we hear from Ten Strands Philanthropic Engagement Manager Navreet Dhaliwal who shares how his personal and professional path have driven his commitment to advocating for underserved and marginalized communities.
Full disclosure: I am awful when it comes to writing about myself. I am my least favorite subject matter, but I imagine that is the case for many who read this, and in that spirit, I would like to share what drives me the most – community.
I was fortunate to grow up in Anaheim, California surrounded by kids who were tied together by the fact that many of us were first-generation Americans. Our parents came here for all of the push-pull factors we’re taught in high school civics and for a myriad of other reasons. Growing up in my neighborhood was a true melting pot. My neighbors came from nations throughout Latin America, Asia, and Africa, and despite the cultural and ethnic differences, we became stewards of each of our streets and each other. My after-school time was spent doing homework at my friends’ houses eating kimchi and rice or injera with spicy goat. Enjoying meals and company with my friends instilled in me what I feel has been a lifelong yearning to build community.
My neighborhood is probably where I developed the understanding that if you care for someone or about something, you should take care of it. What I care for most in my personal and professional life is instilling the importance of community for those around me, in building a sense of belonging through the comfort of a shared experience that brings us closer together.
Being a professional in the nonprofit sector has emboldened me to stay true to this commitment. In my career, I have worked almost exclusively with underserved and marginalized communities, those who have felt the most neglected and disenfranchised. After college, I moved back home to Southern California to begin working in the community that helped foster and nurture me. I worked with regional nonprofits to improve lives while working on initiatives such as equitable land use, access to health care services, affordable housing, and legal advocacy. While doing this work I realized that the inequities I worked to remove were larger than my regional community, and I worked to understand how I could be a better steward for communities of people more broadly. I found that one of the cruxes of being someone who wants to create togetherness is that there is always the need to bring more and more people together. The opportunity to work with Ten Strands not only provides me with the capacity to work on a larger scale, but also gives me a sense of personal fulfillment in building relationships with those who share my vision and are impassioned by the yearning to improve the lives of others.
I am reminded of a quote said by Coretta Scott King, “The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.” Ten Strands embodies the idea of community – of an interconnectedness where our commitment to being stewards of our homes and an unrelenting need for environmental justice allows all people to understand that our successes and failures, our potential and limitations, and ultimately our lives depend upon each other reaching this mutual understanding. I am thrilled to have the privilege to serve as Ten Strands’ Philanthropic Engagement Manager, allowing me to continue strengthening our community of supporters and donors. I am so proud of the work that the small, but mighty Ten Strands team accomplishes through our commitment to designing equitable and diverse programming and the strategic partnership building that moves us all forward together as a community.