by Jessica Carreras
Reynaldo Magdaleno is the board president of Karibu House and co-director of Detroit Latin@z. The Detroit resident is a passionate advocate for LGBT people and those living with HIV/AIDS.
1) What are your duties for Karibu House since you took over as president?
Taking the helm of any project or organization increases one’s responsibilities and accountability. Fortunately, Dr. Kofi has not gone far and is the vice chair, offering guidance based on her knowledge and experience.
My role as the head of this organization has been to work with the board to progress Karibu House in a strategic manner. Karibu House has been slowly developing over the past couple years, evolving from a grassroots effort to an organization with a corporate-like infrastructure. We recognize that having a solid foundation to grow upon lends to sustainability, reliability and longevity.
2) Karibu House has been somewhat silent lately. What can people expect from the organization in the near future?
Our plans for next year are to continue to work with our supporters and funders as well as creating new meaningful partnerships that afford opportunities for a broad and diverse community. We will be carefully selecting seven new leaders to join our board of directors as we launch programming and put the call out for an executive director.
3) What do you do within Detroit Latin@z?
Thanks to the Arcus Foundation’s Johnny Jenkins and Michigan AIDS Coalition’s Craig Covey and Adriana Garza, Detroit Latin@z has had the support to grow and move in the direction of forming its own 501(C)3 status.
My role with this group is as co-director alongside Tony O’Rourke. Together we coordinated activities including community needs assessment to determine the interest and needs of the Latino/a LGBT community. We then launched a series of trainings and events that formed an ongoing interest from a number of our membership. We organized a weekend retreat that lead to the founding Board of Directors. Tony and I continue to develop the group toward becoming an organization under the guidance and support of the Board of Directors.
4) You’ve been an advocate, educator and volunteer helping people with HIV/AIDS for years. How are you involved with the cause currently?
Through Detroit Latin@z, we co-founded and chair a partnership named “Detroit Red Ribbon Collaborative”. This partnership includes a number of highly qualified and experienced members who work against HIV/AIDS in diverse communities: Al Gamea, The Association GLBT of Middle Eastern Americans; AmeriCorp NAF/Caring Counts; Detroit Health & Wellness Promotion; Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation; Detroit Latin@z; Michigan AIDS Coalition; Michigan Department of Community Health; and Young Brothers United.
We just hosted an event for World AIDS Day and are hosting another – a dance fundraiser themed the “Detroit Red Affair,” which will be hosted on Dec. 5 from 9 p.m. – 2 a.m. at the new Menjos Complex. There will be all sort of features including a 50/50 raffle, giveaways, performances and more.
This collaboration has been intended to carry on. We recognize the potential of partnering up with diverse communities that make up Detroit in order to enhance the accessibility to resources to better serve the larger community impacted most by HIV/AIDS – MSM/MTF people of color.
It has been great working with an ethnically diverse community. Learning about different cultures and working toward the betterment of our community creates trust and understanding. What better way to improve conditions here in Michigan than through collaboration? None!
5) You’ve won several awards and recognitions for your work. Which meant the most to you and why?
I love what I do, and the best reward for me is the number or people I get to interact with on a regular basis.
However, with respect to the question … while my awards and recognitions all meant a great deal to me, the one that meant the most is the Unity Award. It was unexpected, and meant a great deal because my work is all about uniting people from various backgrounds together.
As LGBT people, we are fighting every single day for fundamental rights that are already afforded to us by our constitution, but because of bias interpretation we are denied liberties. There is strength in numbers, and value in people. It is an honor to walk hand-in-hand with one another cross racial, ethnic, cultural differences, because at the end of the day, right is right!
Check out Detroit Latin@z at www.detlatz.org. Learn more about Karibu House at http://www.karibuhouse.org.