Still in high school, Alex is introducing the mission of Habitat to a younger generation

Alex Coltman dreams of one day becoming Oregon’s first Latina senator. But first, she’s got to finish high school.  

At only 17 years old, Alex has already decided she is going to change this country for the better.  She’s already well on her way, in fact, starting with her home community.  

“With people of my generation, everybody wants to see change in our country and our world,  especially with the crazy political climate right now,” she said. “But in order for us to do that, on this large scale, we need to start with our own communities.” 

For Alex, that means helping Spanish-speaking communities and immigrants. As a fluent Spanish speaker having grown up around immigrants in her own family, helping translate and connect people to resources is one of her many strong suits.  

Alex was one of four Bank of America student interns at Habitat for Humanity Portland Region during summer 2023. Her work with nonprofit organizations began well before that, however, with the Make-a-Wish Foundation, where her mother works. She also put on workshops for families affiliated with the local nonprofit Latino Network during her sophomore and junior year of high school.  

She’s working towards a career in public policy, which led her to apply for the Bank of America student intern program. She came into the internship knowing little about Habitat’s mission, which she said allowed her to have an open mind about what she would accomplish in her two months at the organization.  

After connecting with various departments at Habitat, Alex quickly identified where she was most needed: answering calls and talking with Spanish speakers to get them the information and resources they needed.  

“That’s where I found my niche at Habitat,” she said.  

Alex also helped plan the annual homeowner celebration and Hard Hat & Black Tie Benefit in October. She traveled to Washington D.C. with the other interns to meet with lawmakers and communicate what Habitat would realistically need in order to achieve its immediate goals.  

Alex on the steps of the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.

By the end of her internship,  Alex connected with the Latino Network, where she used to volunteer, to help inform local Latine and immigrant communities about Habitat’s work. She also learned as much as she could about affordable homeownership to continue advocating for the cause. 

Even after the internship had ended, her work with Habitat continued.  

When she returned for her senior year, Alex started a Habitat volunteer chapter at her high school. Community service hours are a requirement for graduation, so she talked with the school’s counselor about including Habitat as a career-related learning experience.  

The group’s first volunteer outing was at the Beaverton ReStore, and she plans to take the group out once a month for more volunteer opportunities with Habitat. Around 50 students signed up to volunteer at the ReStore, Alex said.  

“I want to reach my generation a little more and get them to know what Habitat is,” she said. “Right now, the emphasis is on homelessness and not on homeownership when I think we could focus on a couple different things. 

Alex will be visiting the nation’s capitol again perhaps sooner than she expected; she just found out she was chosen for the United States Senate Youth program. Only two students from each state are selected for the program, which sends young adults to D.C. to meet the president, supreme court justices, and other legislators. She will once again meet with Oregon Sens Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley to voice her community’s needs and how they can help at the federal level.  

In order to get into this prestigious program, Alex had to write and propose a bill she would put into legislation. What was that bill about? Habitat and homeownership, of course. 

“Habitat really did make an impact on me because it was the first thing I thought of,” she said. “But this program is just another platform to advocate for my community and the causes I care about, like Habitat’s mission.”

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