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Member & Activist Spotlight

'That support has come back full circle'

Ciara Aguilar is a Community Liaison in Phoenix, Arizona
Ciara Aguilar Moses Mitchell
Published: April 21, 2023

When I was a high school student, the economy was bad. We lost our house. There was a person in my school, however, who supported my family during this time. It was a huge help—that support has come back full circle.

Today, I work in our Family and Community Division for Phoenix Union High School District. As a community liaison, I work closely with our McKinney-Vento, Foster, and critical need student population. We provide a lot of different resources, from school supplies and food boxes to clothing, to ensure students have the same opportunity as any other student on campus. If a student is bouncing from house to house and wants to play a sport, for example, but doesn’t have the equipment, that’s where I come in to bridge the gap. These resources are for all students, too—not just those who are in most need.

We also help our students’ families, from figuring out how to pay rent or a utility bill to where to find a car seat for their baby. In Arizona, we get a lot of house fires and sometimes families lose everything in their homes. We’ve connected them with community organizations who provide furniture, mattresses, and other household items.

And this is why my job is important: Due to the ongoing aggressive homeless problem our community is experiencing, a lot of our students and families are on a waiting list for services. As community liaison, we build relationships and rapport with our communities to bring resources and services to our families while they wait.

Plus, our school is a familiar and safe space for our families to come and ask for help.

I joined the Phoenix Union High School District Classified Employee Association because of the work behind the scenes and the people who were giving their time to make the world a better place. I’ve watched and listened to union leaders give so much of themselves to support members in their campuses. I wanted to give back in the same way, and so I became campus union representative.

I now get to support and highlight the great work of my colleagues, and I love what I do. I have an amazing team and district leaders. The union supports our work and helps in different ways, from stocking our pantries with non-perishable foods to volunteering at our events. They give us kudos for doing what we love—working with students and their families. It’s been amazing and rewarding. 

National Education Association

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The National Education Association (NEA), the nation's largest professional employee organization, is committed to advancing the cause of public education. NEA's 3 million members work at every level of education—from pre-school to university graduate programs. NEA has affiliate organizations in every state and in more than 14,000 communities across the United States.