By Brian Orellana

Howdy! My name is Brian Orellana, and I am from the great state of Texas. I am a current freshman in the Engaged Citizen Corps (ECC),  studying Secondary Education and Math Education with a concentration in Math 5-12 and Social Justice in Urban Education.

As a Texan, community service is rooted in my veins to help people in different ways through food banks, blood donations, and disaster relief. As I was looking to come to Iowa, the Engaged Citizen Corps allowed me to continue to fulfill my community service mission by partnering with a local non-profit in the city of Des Moines.

I am currently partnered with The Center for Social Ministry with the mission to provide poverty awareness and social justice education that transforms and empowers to drive change. The Center for Social Ministry is a Christian-based organization that uses the love of Jesus to help the community. The Center for Social Ministry (CSM) addresses poverty, racial injustice, homelessness, and immigration by educating the community through programs offered by JustFaith Ministries, book clubs, and small group discussions. Some of the work I do at CSM includes improving our social media platforms, creating book programs to address difficult topics, and having the opportunity to be involved in discussions through our programming.

Poverty, racial injustice, homelessness, and immigration are some of the issues we are trying to address in our community through education. Education is essential to invest in people to create a better world for everyone. First, The Center for Social Ministry offers different programming through JustFaith Ministries such as Faith and Racial Healing: Embracing Truth, Justice, and Restoration; Faith and Racial Equity: Exploring Power and Privilege, and Hunger for Change that allows small groups to reflect on certain injustices happening in our community. Our goal is to help move towards a more just world, but some of these issues like poverty and racial injustice are caused by our community’s lack of awareness.

The Center for Social Ministry uses our social media platforms to address these issues in our community by posting articles and creating a diverse platform with posts about Black History Month, Hispanic Heritage Month, and honoring essential events for our neighbors.

Furthermore, another critical event we provide is Beyond the Book, which is a way for our community to read a book about important issues like poverty, racial injustice, and more. After reading the chosen book, our community meets to discuss the important themes addressed in the book and bring discussion about how we can work together to create a more just society for our neighbors, invest ourselves to be an ally, and move forward in our work of creating a better world.

As COVID-19 continues to disrupt our world, there have been many ways the Center for Social Ministry has continued to do our work in our community. We have moved most of our programming to virtual spaces on Zoom, sent out surveys to our community for check-ins on their well-being, and continue to use our social media platforms to expand our mission to bring poverty awareness and social justice.

ECC has helped me gain valuable skills that will be useful for my future career as an educator. I have learned how to manage my time well, especially in a virtual setting, to be present in my organization. I have continued to learn valuable time management skills that have allowed me to be successful in many projects in my organization, such as planning out my week ahead, asking for help if necessary, and always taking care of my health.

When I started my academic career at Drake, I began as a Political Science major, which quickly changed to the Education field because I learned through ECC and The Center for Social Ministry that impact is made through investments. As a person of color, my purpose is to allow students of color to fulfill their dreams and to see themselves in me. I continue to bring my vision of equity in service and education to my organization and the ECC program.

As I continue to finish my term in ECC at The Center for Social Ministry, I have learned to be an active citizen in my community to pursue a better world because a better world is possible through service, through community organizing, equity, and inclusion in our neighborhoods. I have learned to help my community in any way, shape, or form through activism, social media, and speaking out when necessary. I learned this year about making an organization execute its full potential through the teaching of Robert Lupton in Toxic Charity. Furthermore, one of the lessons I learned from Toxic Charity was an investment in people. The Center for Social Ministry accomplishes that through its education programs, people become educated on poverty, racial injustice, homelessness, and immigration.

The Center for Social Ministry can be reached through social media on Instagram and Facebook as Center for Social Ministry. We can also be found at with full descriptions of the programs we offer, Beyond the Book, and more!

A better world is possible.