Name: Christine Verzosa Delostrinos
Current City: Los Angeles, California
Hometown: East Bay Area!!! California
Occupation: City Planner Monday through Thursday and Founder of Lightwork everyday.
In a few sentences, tell us a little bit about yourself?
Growing up, I wanted to be Pocahontas in Disneyland, singing on stage and entertaining people. I loved the joy it brought me and always saw how happy everyone else in the audience was - there was something magical in it. I took that little piece of magic and brought it to other things. I grew interest in communities and how function, policy and infrastructure can influence our community and its built environment. Mix that with my passion for justice and equality, which should really be seen as my passion for humanity, and that's how I found myself in urban planning. After my 40+ hour work weeks, I sprinkle in my passion for immediate community outreach through Lightwork, a platform that serendipitously began in aims to focus on empowering communities, and more importantly one another. In between all of that, I have a little tortoise named Chingon AKA Chingy. I encourage everyone to drink a gallon of water a day! I love love love my family (including my friends who are my family), my Filipino culture and the Bay Area which I believe is why my heart is the way my heart is. And I love joy, whether I bring it, you bring it, a slice of bomb ass cheese pizza brings it, I believe that there is a little light in everything (not to sound cheesy… whoaaa, double cheese).
What is the origin story of Lightwork?
I always wanted to start a non-profit, but I saw it as my retirement project for when I am old and have "more time" or I wanted to be more involved in an organization that I truly believed in, as I would always volunteer in various organizations. Lightwork began a year ago on a bus ride back from the Bay Area going to Los Angeles. I was experiencing a multitude of heartbreaks. I found myself in tears praying to God asking Him what I can do to not feel this way and what I can do to prevent anyone else from feeling this way. I realized there are many individuals who felt the pain I felt and who were in far worse circumstances. By the time I hit Grapevine, a couple hours before Los Angeles, I started texting a bunch of friends to meet at my house that Saturday to make peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches for individuals on Skid Row. I knew that was the only thing that would fuel my fire at that time. Once I hit Union Station in Downtown LA it became an idea to give a bag filled with essentials and a lunch to homeless women* on Skid Row. After that first project, Lightwork literally became light-work and sparked all the following projects.
You've recently launched a fundraiser to help a women's shelter in Brooklyn. Tell us a little about the process and why you chose to launch Brooklyn next?
Lightwork’s process in choosing projects or communities is pretty organic. There is this saying that I truly live by and it goes as follows, “Go where your spirit is compelled and have faith in it!” And that is honestly what Lightwork has been doing. Each project is sparked by friends and even strangers who have become friends who reach out to me and feel compelled to help and do something in their community. And I am all ears and heart!
Lightwork’s Brooklyn project is part of a series that is taking place until the end of the year. To end 2017 we are doing events focusing on Brooklyn, New York, Puebla, Mexico, Oakland, California, and Puerto Rico. Each of these were sparked by people I know. And I think that’s the unique aspect of Lightwork, is it is "grassroots" or that "mom and pop" restaurant that you know and feels like your home. Lightwork is a collective of friends and of individuals who have joined forces all with the mission to serve. Everyone I work with are people I know but are now sharing a different experience with the world of giving back. It’s truly magic.
Specifically for Brooklyn, it truly started with an Instagram DM which turned into a phone call and couple text messages back and forth to now a living room full of donations for women in Brooklyn. Shout out to Paulina Singer sliding in the DM’s - that is truly how these projects come into play, it's sparked conversations. Paulina came to Lightwork with the spirit to aid women in her community, as she resides in Brooklyn.
Lightwork’s mission is to spark light, to empower communities and one another, an all-inclusive focus. One day it can be for women the next day it can be for tortoises. The point is that we all got love and light, and our purpose is to share it and enable it in one another. Raising awareness in the value of the people and things that surround us.
Are there any other events/causes/collaborations you'd like the readers to know about?
To end 2017 and as Lightwork’s ‘One Year’ we are ending things with a series of projects focusing on:
+Providing essential items to those affected by the earthquake that recently happened
+A benefit show with The Listening, which is a collective of poets and artists, that is happening November 5 in Virginia. Cash donations will be donated to World Help organization who is aiding those affected by Hurricane Irma
+A collaboration with a local salon in Oakland to give elderly a sense of empowerment through a haircut and a little makeover and dinner during the Thanksgiving Holiday.
All the information is on the website, and you can learn how to join in on the fun!
What are some challenges you’ve hit at this point in your career and how do you navigate through them?
Some challenges I have experienced at this point of my career are organization, work-life balance and being able to know that I am "on time".
Organization. My brain runs on one hundred most of the time. Having multiple ideas and things on my mind with the added action of execution of making things happen, I always have trouble with organization and being able to delegate tasks. So I am currently working on that. I have two notebooks; a general daily notebook which I write my To-Do Lists and Present Thoughts and Ideas so I never forget them and cross them off. A good practice I am trying to maintain is to be more present and self-aware, so writing all my thoughts down is super beneficial. Then I have another notebook/agenda to make sure I know when things are and to keep chronological track of everything going on.
Work-life balance. I believe we all struggle with this. My work has definitely spilled over into my life. Between my day job and Lightwork, I am basically working all the time. It's a good and a bad thing. It's good in the sense that I feel like all of my conversations about helping people, which is pretty amazing. Yet "bad" in the sense that I end up over thinking about all the things I need to and forget to take a break. How am I navigating through that? Still working on it, but definitely learning how to be more present and take some time for self-care. So I’ve made it a goal to do something for myself every week. Whether that is visiting my family or friends on the weekends, going to eat a yummy meal or listening to jazz… I always need to go to yoga and drink a least a gallon of water, but things like that. Setting time aside to focus on making YOU happy.
I think a combination of the two leads to the on-time trivial phrase we all face as well. Being able to be confident in where we are in life and knowing that ‘we are where we need to be at this moment.’ I have learned a lot about that this past year. I am my biggest enemy and my biggest competitor etc. So, when I don’t reach a personal vision in my head, I definitely give myself the hardest time. But I have come to learn that "everything little thing is [truly] going to be alright". Bob Marley really did have it figured out. So, anytime I find myself in the dirt about things, I write down how I feel in my notebook followed by at least three things that I have accomplished, whether that is reaching this ripe old age or even just brushing my teeth. It really reflects our blessings and our courage to go as far as we are going and are made to go. Also, it reminds us that everything is part of this bigger picture.
Let's dive into the future, what are your aspirations moving forward?
My aspiration for the future is to have Lightwork be a real organization with programs that give people skills and facilitate their needs. My mantra right now is "Let’s not waste lives and things!" There are a lot of lives out there and I want to help each find their purpose, whether it's being a chef, a painter or a lawyer. I feel like many individuals don’t know their purpose because they are under circumstances that don’t elevate them to see it. Things meaning waste. We live in a world where we waste a lot of things such as food and textiles/clothes. So I inspire to incorporate a sustainable, best practices dimension in the programming where we can help alleviate waste. So far the fruits and food items used for Lightwork projects are gathered from produce markets/stores that sell or donate items that need to be consumed within the next week. Additionally, the clothes and pillows etc. are donated by companies that typically throw the item away due to a minor defect such as a misprint or a wrong color print. Lightwork collects the items and gives them to individuals in need. In all, I want Lightwork to continue to be a spark of light just like what Tupac said, “I'm not saying I'm gonna change the world, but I guarantee that I will spark the brain that will change the world.”
If you could give one piece of advice to your 12-year-old self, what would it be and why?
I don’t even remember what I was thinking when I was 12, but I do remember what I would tell my little sister all the time when she was younger, and even to this day. I started to tell myself and everyone too, to always look in the mirror and tell yourself "You are the best thing that this world has to offer!" Never let anyone make you feel less than that, and the moment you do feel less is the moment you walk away. Stay close to the things that give you pure joy and happiness, and make you feel like you are worth a million bucks. That confidence and inner-joy and peace will take you places no one, no money and no thing can you.
Discuss the importance of female friendships in your life.
Female friendships are important. I am super thankful for all the strong females in my life. I definitely have a lot of them. They are all influential in their unique ways. We, as in myself and all the beautiful females in my life, are like an army! I feel empowered every time we spend time with one another, whether it’s one on one or we are together as a collective. I don’t know where I would be without the women in my life, from family members to my friends who are family. Females are the most powerful beings on this Earth, so of course when we all get together magic happens! It’s a movement!
Who are some of your greatest influences?
Definitely my parents! My mom and dad taught me a lot. My mom is probably the most selfless person I know with the biggest heart. My dad is probably the most curious person I know with a mind seeking infinite questions and answers. Together they are a unit that exemplifies hard work, dedication and compassion.
My Lola Baby. My Lola Baby believes in me so much and I always wonder why. Her ability to do anything she puts her heart into is amazing and she does it all in the joy of serving others. The list can go on and on, I believe that I am truly a reflection of everyone that has walked through my life as cheesy as that sounds.
If you could have dinner with any woman in history, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
I would have dinner with my Lola Ting, and probably all the women in my ancestry and ask them everything! From what their favorite dish to cook is to their most wild adventure to what to do on a first date. My Lola Ting is my great grandmother on my father’s side. From what I remember, she was the most spirited lady I had ever met when I was a kid. She would tell the wildest stories and I remember everyone laughing all the time. She had this story about the crooked man, with a crooked dog who lived on a crooked street (which was Lombard Street in San Francisco) and I remember thinking this woman is crazy! But that was what was beautiful - her presence brought everyone joy. I would love to be able to sit down with her and ask her so many questions about her life.
What are you grateful for?
I am grateful to God. I am grateful for life. I am grateful for my family and friends. I am grateful for all the experiences that I have been through and am bound to go through. I am grateful for everyone who makes Lightwork possible. I just want to continue to be grateful and happy to be here.
Quote to live by:
Go where your spirit is compelled! And have faith in it. Where we think fear is pushing, love is pulling.