Puentes (bridges) are Latinx millennials and younger generations of leaders in the social justice movement. Puentes leaders are bicultural and some bilingual (Eng/Spa) bridging between our Spanish speaking Latinx communities and the English speaking communities in the U.S. in religious and social justice movement spaces; particularly in the immigrant rights movement, which we're using as a bridge to engage Latinx first generation and intersection movement work such as BLM; intersection of mass incarceration and immigration detention, etc. We are actively engaged with Matthew 25 as our Madrina Alexia has been our biggest ally and supporter of this work. However, Puente work is intentionally for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous & People of Color) by BIPOC. Much of the work in our first year revolved around the decolonizing of our faith and re-learning BIPOC spiritual practices of healing and resilience in our calling as healers and activists. While all of us identify with the Christian faith not all of us are engaged religiously but have our own spiritual practices that draws from both decolonized Christian faith and indigenous spirituality.
La Colectiva Puentes son líderes Latinx millennials y generaciones más jóvenes en el movimiento para la justicia social. Los líderes puentes son bicultural y algunxs son bilingüe (habla inglés y español) construyendo puentes entre la comunidad de habla español e inglés dentro de espacios de la fe y el movimiento de la justicia social en los Estados Unidos; particularmente en el movimiento de los derechos del migrante el cual utilizamos para entrelazar Latinx migrantes en apoyo a temas como Las Vidas Negras Importan (BLM), encarcelamiento masivo y las prisiones de migrantes, etc. Colaboramos con Mateo 25 ya que nuestra Madrina Alexia Salvatierra (fundadora de Mateo 25) ha sido nuestra aliada clave en este trabajo de Puentes. Sin embargo el trabajo de Puentes es por y para personas de color (BIPOC for sus siglas en ingles). Mucho de nuestro trabajo en el primer año fue el proceso de descolonización de nuestra fe y re-aprender prácticas espirituales indígenas de sanación y resiliencia en nuestro llamado como sanadorx y activistas. Aunque la mayoría se identifican con la fe cristiana no todxs estamos involucradxs en instituciones religiosas pero sí tenemos nuestras propias prácticas espirituales que provienen de las dos fuentes: nuestra fe cristiana descolonizada y espiritualidad indígena.
The mission and vision of Puentes Collective is forming and nurturing young leaders committed to lasting social change in our community.
La misión y visión de la Colectiva Puentes es formar y edificar líderes jóvenes comprometidos al cambio social duradero en nuestra comunidad.
Alina Ortiz Salvatierra
Alina grew up in faith communities resisting and organizing around injustice her whole life. She has had a rare and incredible amount of exposure to powerful faith leaders and organizers in her family and community throughout her life. She has been very guided and fueled by faith. Having a mother who is a Lutheran Pastor has instilled very deep values of justice, forgiveness, and sacrificial love for her. Because of these experiences, she feels a deep dedication and responsibility to justice and people power. She has a Bachelors of Arts in Education and Studio Arts from Hampshire College.
Bernice grew up in San Diego, California and serves as a Team Leader for Destino ministry in San Diego. She received her B.A. from UC Santa Barbara which started her journey of serving with Destino, a ministry of Cru specific through the Latinx community on college campuses. She has run community centers providing resources for people in affordable housing and has served with Border Angels. She has a great passion to amplify the voices of those on the margins and recently served as a Lenses facilitator in 2019, a conference that helps ministers engage in cultural fluency development platforms.
Rev. Gabriel Lopez
Rev. Gabriel Lopez is an immigrant from Guadalajara, Mexico. He was brought to the U.S at the age of 6 when his parents began a ministry in Huntington Park, CA. His experience as an immigrant has shaped his passion for ministry in the Latinx context of the 1st generation immigrant church and the 2nd generation Latinx church. His experience and story make him a bridge, a “Puente”, between both communities. Rev. Gabriel and Rev. Siobhan Lopez co-Pastors East Whittier Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) - a young Latinx congregation made up of youth and young adults that worship in the same campus as a 1st generation immigrant Latinx church Iglesia Cristiana del Este de Whittier.
Matthew J Melendrez is a man committed to seeing liberation, healing, and justice for marginalized and oppressed peoples. His roots are in Salinas CA, one of the epicenters of the Chicano Rights movement where his parents were activists fighting for the rights of Latinos. He got his undergraduate degree in Political Science and is currently working on his masters in Clinical Mental Health where he hopes to serve primarily Black and Brown men. He is a certified rape and domestic violence crisis counselor where he has learned ways men can be advocates for women and is in the fight to end gender based violence. He is also a qualified administer of the Intercultural Development Inventory where he uses this tool to coach and consult individuals and teams on growing their cultural competency. He is a man of faith, married to Lindsey, and father to Micah.
Vanessa Martinez Soltero
Vanessa has been involved in advocacy work since 2008 starting with Bread for the World’s Hunger Justice Leaders’ program engaging clergy and lay leaders in advocating for foreign and domestic aid. She interned and eventually worked as an organizer as well as Interim Executive Director for Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice of Orange County (CLUE OC) from 2009-2014 where she was trained in faith-rooted advocacy; an organizing model shaped and guided by faith traditions that enables people of faith to contribute the unique gifts and resources to the broader movement for justice. She is also a fellow of Rockwood Leadership Institute’s Fellowship for a New California. Vanessa was born in Ensenada, Mexico and currently lives in Long Beach, California. She earned her undergraduate degree in psychology from Vanguard University of Southern California.
The Comadres Council is a wise council of BIPOC elders in our extended communities to whom Puentes refer to for wisdom on social justice and faith spaces.
El Consejo de Comadres es un consejo de sabios de personas de color en nuestras comunidades a quienes Puentes se refieren para sabiduria dentro de los espacios de justicia social y la fe.