By Erin Drebushenko
Charlotte Stone first became involved with CCATE in 2015 while she was in her first semester of college at Montgomery County Community College. As a part of one of her classes, she was assigned to volunteer at a local organization and ended up in Norristown. During her time as a volunteer, she grew to love the organization and the environment so much that she decided to continue working with CCATE even after her class assignment was complete. She has since been hired and is now an official employee at CCATE.
Charlotte’s favorite thing about teaching at CCATE is getting to experience the creativity of all the members. All students, parents, and community members combined their creativity to form new ideas to help the community. She calls it a “wonderful, colorful, vibrant place for the community to enjoy.” She also enjoys that CCATE is a space that is able to foster so much love between everyone that is involved in the organization. CCATE is a space where the community can be celebrated and can join together to have fun, but it is also a space where difficult conversations can be held in a normal manner. Charlotte’s absolute favorite part of CCATE is that everything is for the community by the community. She recalls a quote that Obed once told her—“everyone can teach and everyone can learn.”
At CCATE, Charlotte is set to teach an upcoming photography class with fellow teachers, Caitlin Brady and Obed Arango. The class will be mainly for elementary and high school students, but will also serve adults who are interested. The main goal is to get students involved in learning about photography and its history. There will be both a summer and a fall session, with hopes of continuing past this fall. The class plans to teach students about various methods of creating photos and about the history of photography. One plan for the class is to incorporate portraits and self-portraits in the form of selfies to tailor to the current generation that will be the main audience. Through the photographs taken during the class, Charlotte says that CCATE would like to document the Latinx community in Norristown and bring awareness to the community.
In addition to the new photography class, Charlotte also oversees gender equity efforts and programs at CCATE. For the past three to four years, Charlotte has been running girls groups within the high school groups. These programs offer safe spaces for girls to talk about various experiences and issues that women typically face in everyday life. The group provides support and allows girls to ask questions and provide opportunities for them to analyze and make observations surrounding gender inequity. In addition to gender inequity, the groups discuss other methods of oppression to analyze their interconnectedness and keep an open mind when discussing any topics related to inequity and oppression.
In the future, Charlotte would love to see CCATE continue to grow. She would love to increase both the size of the community, the reach of the programs, and new class and program opportunities for members of the community. Charlotte hopes to see more connection outside of the Norristown Latinx community, especially with the new and more widely used virtual technologies.