February 26, 2018  |  Boston & Cambridge Civic Engagement Health Social Capital

Marisol Tejera

I joined FII in 2015 because it spoke to the kind of networking that I enjoy and was a great opportunity to meet new people, build on our strengths, support one another in different ways, and get access to resources.

My group, Women Empowered, consists of seven women. These women were recruited through individuals who were connected to FII and referred them to join a group together. Some of us already knew each other, others didn’t. Our group consists of women who are single mothers, have traveled abroad, hold masters degrees, and different positions and interests within the community. What we have in common is grit and strength.

Meeting with these women was something special each month as we were now on a journey together. Being able to create our own agenda allowed us to lead in our own way. It challenged us to create and be creative. We work well together, share passions, support each other, share resources, and became good friends.

It was in my group and with FII that I was able to start working toward my heath goals — I found support in FII. Using UpTogether Funds, I was able to sign up for a new gym Membership at Crunch Fitness. This was important because it was the vessel I needed to jump into exercising with the proper equipment and instructors. I also used it to buy healthy food and taught my son about the different foods, and we prepared healthy meals together. Through this resource I started my Healthier Together’walking group — I was inspired to inspire others. The group is open to my entire community — we meet and walk Franklin Park in Boston, MA.

FII birthed new ideas in me because they created the platform that supported my goals. The data journal allows me to have a place where I am held accountable and can list personal goals. This helps to keep track. My Women Empowered group also played a big role in supporting my goals. Anything I needed or was a part of, they came out to encourage and support me. Throughout my time in FII, I have been working towards my health goals — and I have lost weight. I continue in my gym membership as well as support health initiatives by others.

Starting with the Healthier Together walking group, I started working towards my goals to bring families and my community together. By banding together around our health goals, we met great women, engaged our children in exercise, and built community.

In 2017, I started a monthly Lego club — a kid’s social club with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) — inspired by my son’s passion for Legos. FII’s UpTogether Fund provided the money I needed to buy the supplies for the club, and I am extremely grateful. The club is an opportunity for parents and children to come together and play. Our children learn creativity, problem solving, teamwork, and gain new friendships across the community. I’m very excited for how the parents meet new parents, and how the children can gain new friendships too. I plan to sustain the club with my own personal funds and through collaborating with others to help it grow.

Through my community engagement, I learned how much more is needed. These children often say that they are hungry. I also find the discussion of affordable rent to be most common. Families are having issues paying bills to maintain rising rent costs. Challenges like childcare have also come up, where moms are forced to stay home because childcare prices are high. These families connect with other families to help in these areas. This is why FII is so special — because we share resources that help us improve our way of life.

Finding FII and Women Empowered has been an amazing experience: One that I recommend to others who want to be active community members who seek a network, as well as a group who is ready to support your goals and share in the experience. FII is the reason that I am more Empowered to develop my passions and impact others the best way I can.

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