By Nichole Harwood
CLNkids held its annual breakfast Friday, May 10, raising money to continue its work serving the homeless community in Albuquerque.
Formerly known as Cuidando Los Ninos, CLNkids is a non-profit organization that helps families suffering from homelessness by combining high-quality early childhood education with proven support programs for parents.
Sponsored by a variety of businesses, the goal of the event was to raise $25,000, which would then be matched by the Carl C. Anderson Sr. and Marie Jo Anderson Charitable Foundation. Several guest speakers delivered speeches during the breakfast including New Mexico State Auditor Brian Colón and parent speaker Elizabeth Jaramillo. Both speakers passionately shared their personal experiences with poverty and homelessness, urging guests at the event to donate to CLNkids in support of its work for the community.
Colón spoke first, recounting his families past struggles with poverty and shared his experiences from a child watching his mother count out food stamps to a young man fighting to receive his degree. Colón told the audience that while his struggles were difficult, he received support from his local community, a community he said he saw coming together once again at the annual breakfast, continuing the fight against homelessness.
“When I got out of bed today, I knew it was going to be a great day because I knew that 500 New Mexicans were going to come together to lift up our community,” Colón said. “We’re coming together to see a vision that is different than what we have today — a vision where our children are cared for and we address homelessness in our community.”
Near the end of his speech, Colón shared and praised his experiences of CLNkids’ effective work, while urging attendees to donate.
“Your success in life will always be directly proportional to the success you help others achieve,” Colón said. “We are now changing the trajectory for families for a lifetime, and let me tell you, Cuidando Los Ninos does it better than anybody else.”
Attendees of the event were given a glimpse into the eyes of a child whose family was homeless in the form of a video. The video explored the state of homelessness as a little girl awoke in a vehicle only to then get ready for school within the same vehicle. Throughout the entire clip, a loving mother did her best to encourage her young daughter, smiling and helping her dress before the two waited at a bus stop.
The goal of the video was to buck the stereotypes that often revolve around homelessness showing a different face to a problem that affects over 500,000 people in the United States, according to the 2018 U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Annual Homeless Assessment Report.
When Jaramillo took to the floor after Colón, she continued where the video left off, advising viewers to not stereotype and categorize those afflicted by homelessness. Instead, she asked the audience to consider the different circumstances an individual can find themselves in that can lead to homelessness — regardless of age, sex or education. Jaramillo emphasized the point by passionately sharing her story regarding homelessness and her children, highlighting her education and work experience and how both were unable to stop her and her children from losing their home when circumstances spun beyond her control.
After telling her story, Jaramillo told the audience about her experience with CLNkids and how their programs helped get her life back on a positive track. She ended her speech thanking CLNkids for their help while crediting them for making a significant impact in her life.
“It is essential that CLNkids gave us the resources that we needed to get back to where we were before,” Jaramillo said.
After thanking attendees for joining the breakfast and their willingness to donate to the cause, Jaramillo ended her speech before the attendees prepared to donate at the end of the event.
“I hope you guys continue to contribute and support CLNkids because it’s not doing anything but creating more positive outcomes for your community,” Jaramillo said.
Photos by contributing ABQ-Live photographer Michael Griego Jr