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Mid-City CAN Blog

In our own words: Meet the new Mid-City CAN organizers

By Martin Moreno and Laura Yamaguchi

On June 24, Martin Moreno joined the Mid-City CAN staff as its new youth organizer. Laura Yamaguchi became a Mid-City CAN community organizer for the Food Justice Momentum Team on July 1. For the previous two years, she was a Building Healthy Communities AmeriCorps member working at Crawford High School in City Heights.

Martin MorenoMartin Moreno: I have always been a person on the move. I was born in Indio. One day later, I was living in Calexico. From there, I moved constantly throughout the Imperial Valley and Mexicali for years until I eventually made my way to San Diego at 17 to attend San Diego State University, becoming the first in my family to attend and graduate from a university. Nine years later, I earned my master's in education, and I am still living in beautiful San Diego. During that time, I lived almost entirely in the College and City Heights areas.


As a youth, I had to face many obstacles, such as poverty, constantly moving, a single-parent household and homelessness. These experiences inspired me to dedicate my career towards helping youth overcome their struggles, whether those are at home or in the community, to provide a better way of life for them. I also see youth as more than just our future. I believe they have the opportunity to be powerful change agents in our community if we stop to listen to them and give them the opportunity to speak. Also, let's be honest, working with youth is fun!

I fell in love with City Heights from the moment I was introduced to it. The cultures fascinated me and gave me a feeling of community. The food was also a way of me learning and connecting with different cultures, whether I was eating broken rice, sambusas, or pupusas. I'm excited and motivated to work in the City Heights community and help inspire young leaders to take ownership of their city and make a difference.
In my free time, I enjoy music from all genres and cultures. I play the guitar as a way of self-healing and believe that music can be a bridge for people to connect to each other or back with themselves. Everyone has something they feel or something they want to say that words can't really explain. This is where the Blues, Funk, Rock, Hip-Hop, Dance, Rancheras, or any other style comes to the rescue.

Laura YamaguchiLaura Yamaguchi: I'm very excited to be a part of the Mid-City CAN team. These past two years mentoring City Heights youth at Crawford High School has been so much fun, I am excited to continue building new relationships within City Heights as Mid-City CAN's newest community organizer.

I was born and raised in San Diego County. I attended Spring Valley Middle School and Grossmont High School, where I engaged in my first organizing experience: pushing our district to fund our Advanced Placement Spanish Literature class during my senior year. That was a key win because I eventually majored in Spanish Literature (and minored in Ethnic Studies) at the University of California, San Diego. While in college, I worked with student groups of color, the Student Affirmative Action Coalition, and reached out to San Diego high school students from underresourced schools, building awareness about college access and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender identity among students of color. After graduating from the University of California, San Diego, I pursued a career in youth- and community-based work in communities of color.
I started with a labor organizing internship organizing service workers at Oakland International Airport, and then went on to empower inner-city youth through creative writing programs in San Francisco. I finally moved back to San Diego and continued working with youth in schools as a Special Education Assistant in the San Diego Unified School District. For the past two years, I mentored 9th and 10th graders in City Heights at Crawford High School through AmeriCorps. Learning from my students for the past two years is an experience I hold close to my heart. I have both laughed and cried with them, while exposing them to new experiences and opportunities to create enduring change in their communities. I hope to continue that type of work in City Heights with Mid-City CAN.

A little about myself? Well, I am a Cancer, I love long walks on the beach... just kidding. I enjoy running and being outside. I wish I could surf better than I do, and I love to watch mixed martial arts on TV. I am a fourth generation Japanese American and play Taiko drums with my Temple. I'm happy to be in City Heights, and I'm looking forward to collaborating and engaging with community members in meaningful and fun ways.

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