Introducing our new Community Engagement Coordinator, Tiffany Santiago
Hello! I’m Tiffany, the new Community Engagement Coordinator at Haywood Street. I heard about the great work Haywood St. was doing several years ago. They really came on my radar when Haywood Street produced a fundraising concert for the Fresco Project at the Wortham Center in 2019. I was the Operations Manager at the Wortham Center and was helping to organize the event at our venue.
Since then, I have been longing for a job opportunity at Haywood Street. An opportunity presented itself to apply for a full-time position at Haywood St. in the summer of 2021 but my Mother-in-law had just passed away and I was stricken with major grief. Six months later my brother-in-law died of Covid a couple of days before Christmas. Six months after that, my Father died unexpectedly from Alzheimer’s disease. Life was heavy and messy, and my family was walking around in a constant state of fog and grief. My husband and I did our best to support our then 6-year-old daughter with her grief as we did our best to deal with ours. Our world continued to be a topsy-turvy of heartbreak, exhaustion, and anguish.
By the end of 2022, I finally felt I was coming out on the other side of grief. On a whim, at the beginning of January, I visited the Haywood St. website hoping to see a job opportunity. I was floored when I saw the Community Engagement Coordinator position and instantly knew I was capable and had the skill set for the job. Yet, the search for a job turned into a yearning to be a part of something bigger and more meaningful. I am truly blown away and humbled by what everyone at Haywood St. has envisioned and how they bring it to life daily. And doing so with grace and compassion, all while continuing to grow and expand. It's a rarity and it's remarkable and I deeply wanted to be a part of it.
Honestly, I'm finding it difficult to put into words the impact the last 5 weeks have had on me. I’m an extremely passionate person and quite the chatterer, so it’s rare when I’m at a loss for words. This place and position have been one of the most incredible and powerful experiences of my life. Our staff, companions, friends, and community inspire me every second of every day. My life has transformed because of Haywood St.
My husband and our 7-year-old daughter have been able to join me at Haywood St. My favorite story to share is my daughter’s take on it. These are the words she expressed about experiencing Haywood Street: "Mama, your job is the coolest, and Haywood St. has a little bit of everything. At times I was very uncomfortable. But then the more I walked around and met people, and walked through the garden, visited the art room and your office, I realized something. What I really feel is love. There is so much love at Haywood Street."
She puts into words what so many of us experience at Haywood St. but don't quite know how to express. It’s my wish that everyone can experience it for themselves.
I’m looking forward to growing with our community and cultivating new relationships at Haywood St. I’ll be working closely with groups interested in volunteering in different capacities such as beautification projects and gardening projects just to name a couple. During the summer months, I’ll facilitate various projects with visiting youth groups. I’ll also be reaching out to churches and civic groups to share about Haywood Street and see how we can work together.
I’m a people person and love to share stories and laughter. If you haven’t met me yet, please stop by my office in the Hair Salon, off of the main lobby.