Submitted by Carolle Martindale
I was born in Canada in 1968 into a very unfortunate childhood filled with abuse and neglect. When I graduated high school I decided that my only hope for a better life was to move to the U.S. I packed everything that I could carry on my back and left. Through various means, I managed to travel 3,300 miles and eventually crossed the border on foot with nothing in my wallet.
I was 19 years old, I was alone, and I had no idea how I was going to make it––especially as a woman. I had nothing to go back to, so creating this new life was the only option I had––no matter the difficulties I faced.
That happened 34 years ago. Today I am 52 years old and my worries in this county are familiar but different. I got educated and went to school, and now I try to make a difference in my community. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned over the years is that I must be civically engaged and continue to educate myself to help my community.
This is why I am currently an intern for ACTIONN, a local nonprofit, while working toward my master’s degree in social work. We fight for affordable housing and work toward economic and racial justice in northern Nevada. Currently, we are empowering Nevadans to vote by helping voters connect and create relationships with local and state-level candidates.
I admit, I have often questioned whether my voice mattered over the years and even now. Do I have a voice in the elections that determine who represents us? As a woman who has endured homelessness? As an immigrant? As someone who has to constantly worry about whether their wages will cover their cost of living that month?
But at this moment in history, I know more than ever, we must seize the opportunity to change our lives and better our futures by voting.
Personally, I have experienced how hard it is to make an informed decision on who to vote for at the local and state level. In all honesty, I have skipped voting in the past because I had very limited information about the candidates. This left me with elected officials who did not represent my values and experiences.
In order to vote for ourselves and our community, we have to be informed. For so long we have been living in the status quo, one where elected officials use band-aid solutions to resolve our problems. Voting in the elections this year is the first step toward centering our communities in a new normal that puts people first.
This is why I invite you to learn more about local and state candidates with the New Normal Voter Guide that ACTIONN has put together. The New Normal Voter Guide asks questions about issues such as housing, immigration, policing, budgets, education and much more. You can access the guides at the links below.
English Voter Guide: https://actionn.org/voterguide/
Spanish Voter Guide: https://actionn.org/guiadelvotante/
Carolle Martindale is an intern for Acting in Community Together in Organizing Northern Nevada (ACTIONN) and is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Social Work at UNR.
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