Beautiful, safe and peaceful neighborhoods are universal and legitimate requests for any community. However, few are those who dedicate their lives to working to make these ideals a reality.
In Humboldt Park, Chicago, everyone knows of a man who has given himself fully and with no regrets to the community. His passion, humbleness and wisdom are transmitted from his persona the minute you reach out to greet him. His commitment to selfless volunteerism has made him a symbol of outstanding leadership and a familiar face at community clean-ups, festivals, and neighborhood meetings.
Few have managed to mobilize people the way that Pablo Medina has. His example has impacted people in such a way that when Pablo speaks, they listen. He has connected the lives of those living inside the neighborhood to those outside in a personal and diplomatic way; always seeking middle ground from which to build on. His actions have inspired many to become involved in direct service…something seen by Pablo as an act of love.
Having migrated from Puerto Rico in 1968, Pablo quickly awoke to the harsh realities that face immigrants and surrounding communities of the poor. Most importantly, he became conscious of the power that people have to, as Ghandi once said, “be the change they wish to see in the world.”
Since his college years, Pablo has been visible in advocating, through civic participation, for those who have been disconnected from a larger community at both local and international levels (as has been the case with the people of Puerto Rico and other minority populations). He worked to establish the Rafael Cintron-Ortiz Latino Cultural Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago, now home to many events held by students and other organizations.
As a long-term board member of the Ruiz Belvis Cultural Center and the Institute for Puerto Rican Arts and Culture, he has helped strengthen families by providing them with positive outlets, such as the appreciation of and engagement in the arts; as well as a sense of volunteerism to keep them alive. In 1983, he was commissioned to the Mayor’s Advisory forefront. Later, he was instrumental in a victory lawsuit that sought to ensure long-term quality/access to housing. He has served as a strong bridge between local government and community. As co-founder of the Humboldt Park Vocational Center, he has made education a key focus. And in co-founding the Puerto Rican Agenda, he has led numerous initiatives for the economic, social and political development of the community, and to establish what his son describes as the concept of “creating a space that’s ours.”
Pablo Medina, a leader in his own right, will always continue to take every moment to create positive social change by teaching others to give with generosity and change the world.