Goodbye Friends!

To My RYTF Family,

It is with a heavy heart that I announce that I will be leaving my position as Senior Field Organizer of the Rockaway Youth Task Force. I want to thank each and every member for giving me a once in a lifetime experience. In this position, I’ve had the opportunity to meet inspiring people, work on incredible campaigns, and fight side by side for social justice with some of Rockaway’s most talented young people. I have been blessed.

I joined RYTF in 2011 because I wanted to be a part of the movement that was bringing grassroots change to the Rockaways. I was already doing “small stuff” in my neighborhood, but I knew that more work needed to be done. RYTF allowed me to work with other likeminded young people to bring about change in our community. We were fighting, hand in hand, against systematic inequalities and I knew from the moment I joined, that I had found home in the organization.

I began as a volunteer with RYTF and moved all the way up to a senior member of the organization. I learned everything from learning how to engage young people around a key issue to organizing campaigns. More so, RYTF provided context for the work. Before joining, I was advocating for issues because it felt like something I should do. RYTF allowed me to learn about the history of civil rights movements and advocacy and provided me with the background information to do this work well. My time at RYTF gave me skills that will continue to help me throughout my life.

I am also sorrowful to be leaving some of my dearest friends. I remember when our organization only had five members and to know that we could reach 60 members by the end of this year makes my heart swell with pride. Watching our members grow into conscious, talented organizers is part of the reason I woke up every morning for the past five years. You all inspire me! In addition, RYTF’s leadership team has become my family. I consider Jazmine and Silaka my sisters. The time we spent together working, laughing, and disagreeing, have made me a better organizer and a better person. I will miss working with such talented young women.

I also want to specifically thank Milan Taylor for everything he’s done for me. Milan saw the potential in me even when I questioned it. He has been a big brother in my life and I am a better man for knowing him. I will take the lessons he’s taught me to heart and I will call upon them in times of difficulty.

As I move on to my next opportunity, I want to stress the importance of the work that we do. We fight every day to create a fairer Rockaway. Through our advocacy, we bring awareness to the plight of our families and neighbors. Through our food justice efforts, we work to fill the tables in our community with healthy food. Our Leadership Course empowers young Rockaway residents to change the face of our community. To have been a part of an organization that is doing such great things has truly been a pleasure and I thank you all for changing my life for the better. RYTF put me on the path to success and cemented my desire to bring change to our community, one that has been underserved for decades. I will continue to serve our neighborhood in my position on Community Board 14, an opportunity I would not have if not for RYTF. I love you all and look forward to being your ally in the future. I will always be a supporter and friend of the Rockaway Youth Task Force!

Yours in Partnership,

Khaleel Anderson