I have known the New York City foster care system since 1981 until I aged out with my children at 18 years old (they were being wards of the state as well). My mother would be one of hundreds of teenagers that had given birth to babies addicted to a substance called heroine.
My maternal grandmother, Dorothy Johnson Bethea was forced to take and care for me and 2 other siblings or I would be in the system. She worked for a white woman in Manhattan to keep us fed and clothed but she still wasn’t able to leave us with anything. She died 8 years later from cancer having nothing to show for it but food stamps, high blood pressure and children and grandchildren to perpetuate slavery in systemic oppression.
Having no relationship with either parent, I became a ward of the state. That systemic arena snowballed into a life that has produced longing effects of dependency of systems that perpetuate oppression. Along with the lasting effects of unhealthy family and abusive intimate relationships and taking on the responsibility of my first two grandchildren, I find myself in the same situation 40 years later. Same system, same oppression, but a new way of thinking.
Twelve years ago I moved to Fort Collin, Colorado from Brooklyn, New York with 4 sons and I was saved (by Christ) 5 years ago. Though it feels good to be free spiritually, my environment and I need to work on the physical, emotional, mental and financial peace.
Being rejected from programs because of my resiliency, the color of my skin, or because they had already checked the quota box, didn't sit right with me, so New Eyes Village was born.
New Eyes Village is here to support families where they are at. Giving them the resources they need to thrive in their own lives, to heal among one another the generational traumas that were put upon us. With domestic violence, deportations and incarceration of black and brown men and women, the needs for families in our community extends from food and financial support and education to food security and emotional support from people that look like them and have their experiences.
New Eyes Village are the feet on the ground for families suffering from a host of obstacles in their lives.
THANK YOU to all the amazing people and organizations who help us meet our mission every day!
Heart of the Rockies Christian Church
The Executive Director of Operations and Grant Writer
Kayleigh is the Grant Writer for New Eyes Village. She has worked within the world of nonprofits for 8 years. Kayleigh’s main passions are in bringing communities together, and evoking a strong sense of Unity, through our shared connection to nature. Kayleigh received her M.A. in Marine Conservation and Policy from Stony Brook University in New York, with studies focused on grant writing and environmental education. Her graduate thesis involves a short story, calling youth to develop a conservationist perspective in their community. Prior to her graduate degree, she received her B.A. in Environmental Studies from Pace University. Her undergraduate thesis provides an in-depth assessment of nonprofit organizing to address climate change. Aside from her academic background, Kayleigh has worked with nonprofits as an environmental educator, nurturing development in early childhood, as well as teaching children in low-income communities how to plant native-plant gardens. Kayleigh is thrilled to bring her experience into this project. She's grateful to be a part of New Eyes Village, and to continue learning and growing, while celebrating the connections found in nature and culture!! In her downtime, Kayleigh loves to be outdoors with her family and is a certified Yoga teacher.
The Associate Director of Programming
Jamie Pagano brings over 12 years of experience in the non-profit and education fields to New Eyes Village. His life motto is “be excellent to each other" which shines though in all the work he does. He began his love for non-profit work at the early age of 15, working for Camp Tekoa, which is a residential camp in his home state of North Carolina. Jamie attended Appalachian State University where he graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Recreation Management with a concentration in Outdoor Education. His love for gardening blossomed during his internship at Boys and Girls club where he was in charge of teaching about and caring for their raised bed garden. Shortly after graduating, Jamie found his way to the great state of Colorado and began working for BASE Camp. During his time with BASE Camp he created a program for school-age children to learn about hydroponic gardening. He also created a learning and harvesting space for children to grow their own food and donate it to those in need. Jamie is excited to begin this new chapter in his life with New Eyes Village! His family is about to welcome their newest addition, Luna, on May the fourth!
Dr. Caridad Souza
Dr. Caridad Souza is director of the Center for Women’s Studies and Gender Research at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado where she is also a faculty member in the College of Liberal Arts. Her teaching and research interests include intersectional theories and methods, women, children and poverty, the narratives and cultural logics of domination around racialized gender and sexuality. Dr. Souza is the recipient of various fellowships and grants and has written articles and guest-edited journal volumes on teenage pregnancy, feminist ethnography, Latina adolescent sexualities, and pedagogical issues in the feminist classroom. She co-authored with seventeen other Latina Feminists the book Telling to Live: Latina Feminist Testimonials that documents the journey of Latinas in higher education. Currently, she is compiling an anthology on multiracial & decolonial feminism and writing about women of color feminists as philosophers of social healing. She also wants to write about and do social and political work around the concept of Social Healing as a way to move us towards a more equitable, just and free future.
Jordan is entering the world of nonprofits with her internship at New Eyes Village. She has attended Colorado State University for the past four years and is graduating in a few months with a Bachelor's degree in Psychology and a minor in Women's Studies. Jordan's developing feminist consciousness has initiated a drive in her to get more involved in community outreach and non-profit work. She is honored to be part of the New Eyes Village team and eager to learn more in this position!
My name is Jaquikeyah Fields and I am a 4th year student at Colorado State University. I major in Women and Gender Studies with two minors in Political science and Anthropology. Being allowed into the beautiful community of New Eyes village will propel my feminist praxis. Getting to know the communities of color in fort Collins and being able to create community through counterculture agriculture will be a rewarding experience!