Maylin Sambois-Sanchez & Javier Sanchez

Maylin Sambois-Sanchez & Javier Sanchez

The term “power-couple” is often used to refer to two individuals – dating or married – who are independently successful. At times, this phrase seems somewhat trite – terming “power” as economic success. Yet, in many ways, I am tempted to use this label for Maylin Sambois-Sanchez and Javier Sanchez. These two look to strengthen the Columbus community through their focus on youth programming. The vision they each have for improving children’s lives coupled with their support for one other lends a special kind of power to their endeavors.

Maylin, Javier, and I met just a few days before their second wedding anniversary at their Gahanna home. They dedicate much of their time to improving the lives of children in Columbus, Ohio through their separate and collective work with R.E.A.C.H. Communications, Youth to Youth International, and Femergy (check each of these organizations out). You may also recognize Javier as one of the two friendly faces that host Columbus Neighborhoods with Charlene Brown. In addition to sharing their experiences with these programs, they explain what about Columbus fosters their passion for helping others.

Listen to hear more about their journeys to Columbus and how you can use your individual passion to begin helping the community:

Moving the needle:

🎧 Listen (4:06)
Javier: “What do I do? It depends on the day. But I have a company called Reach Communications and we are a health and wellness marketing firm. We develop marketing campaigns for non-profits… Particularly geared at disadvantaged or disenfranchised communities, primarily black and Latino… We’re ‘Artfluential,’ meaning we use art to influence and move the needle in terms of health and wellness and behavioral change. My background is – I’m an artist. I do poetry and stand up comedy and different things like that. So, I’m able to use my artistic background and incorporate it into what we do as a company…”
Maylin: “I do a lot of things. One of them is in the daytime I work for Youth to Youth International. We work with teens all over Franklin County… helping teens make a positive impact in school, home and then also their community… In addition to that I have my own non-profit. My best friend and I have a nonprofit called Femergy, and with that we serve women and girls in the community… I feel so blessed because I am doing everything that I really love and am passionate about… We are not here by ourselves, someone extended their hand and showed us the way – or saw potential in us when we didn’t see it in ourselves. We want to make sure we’re that person for somebody else.”

Products of the City:

🎧 Listen (6:33)
Javier: “I always tell people I’m a proud product of this city… I really credit the school experience here, Columbus City Schools and the organization that she [Maylin] works for, Youth to Youth. I was actually a teen involved in that program, and it really changed my life, and more importantly saved my life… [As a kid] I just got caught up in everything that was going on in my environment, my neighborhood, community, and even home. I was really lost and rudderless, then got connected to Youth to Youth and it showed me more options than I realized I even had available to me as someone with my ethnic heritage or skin color… I was given so much and I wanna give so much back in return.”
Maylin: “I was born in the Dominican Republic and was there until I was about 12 and then moved to New York… My parents separated and I moved here [Ohio]… The transition from the Dominican Republic to New York was really hard… I really wanted to go back to my country, but we didn’t have a way to go back because we had sold everything we had to get to this country and make dreams come true – you know like the American Dream?… [In Reynoldsburg] I had teachers that truly believed in me, saw above my language barrier, and this group of girls that were really study focused… they helped me with writing essays and applying to college. Having that support really helped me go to college…”

Helping Latino Youth in Columbus:

🎧 Listen (5:58)
Javier: “We’re not a border state or border city… there’s a naiveté amongst other young people who aren’t immigrants about the stress of an immigrant life… I think Latino young people growing up here in Columbus, they face all the stresses that every other young person faces, but there’s an added layer that a lot of times they don’t even talk about. They realize that most of the people they go to school with can’t relate to it, so they may not feel like it’s worth it or safe to talk about it. They keep it to themselves – so on the surface it might look like it’s ok… But they have all these experiences so foreign to their classmates lives…”
Maylin: “For some of the programs that we do we have to go talk to the parents in person, explain to them why this is valuable, how is your child going to be protected. I get it, I was the child of an immigrant and my parents didn’t let me do a lot of things because of that same scare… We are trying to connect the youth with resources… With girls, girls have been given this idea that they may not be able to make it – make the same income as men… For us, telling girls not to give up, because this is a battle we’ve been fighting for years and find and utilize their voice.”
Maylin and Javier stand in their beautiful home.

Claiming identity:

🎧 Listen (4:43)
Maylin: “Well, I identify as Dominicana, Latina, a woman. Those are my biggest identities. As a wife, as a stepmother, as a daughter – there are a lot of identities to me… I’m a Latina woman and I’m proud of that, I would not want to be anything else other than what I am.”
Javier: “I’m a husband, father, son, brother all those. When it comes to my cultural identity it gets interesting because I identify as Mexican. People that know me will say, ‘Wait, you’re not just Mexican, your mom is white. Why are you forsaking the white side of your family?’ My answer to that is, ‘What’s the point?’ I don’t experience the privilege of being white, because of my name, skin color, hair texture.”
Maylin: “I mean, I’m lucky because I’m born fully Latina. But in the beginning when I was here – people didn’t see me as Latina, they were like, ‘You’re African American…’ No one would ever question what I was until I spoke and my accent came out…”
Javier: “Same growing up with me, they’d look at me and they’d say, ‘Well we know you’re mixed,’ but they thought I was black and white. By association there were no other Mexicans or Latinos period… again this was pre-2000s.”
Maylin: “I think as we work with youth, letting them know it’s ok to be confused about where you are or where you belong, because it takes time! It’s who you are and who you want to be that really matters. So, you decide how you want to identify yourself – you decide that for you and as adults we’re here to support that.”

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