Family is the bedrock of our society, the fabric upon which our society is formed. As the proverb goes, it takes a village to raise a child. Khalil Panni grew up with a strong extended family that shaped his sense of community. A Seattle native, the current member of the Board of Directors struggled to maintain a firm foundation from which he could pursue his hopes and dreams.
He grew up admiring a heroic mother who always managed to be the rock he so desperately needed. When he was 22 years old, he connected with Got Green and found a community that reflected his values.
In 2010 Khalil had been working as an audio engineer at KBCS when he met Got Green Director Michael Woo during a live interview.
“I checked them out and liked what I heard, talking about green jobs,” Khalil said. “I was invited to a rally and tried to pursue it as a news story at first. But I liked what these guys were about.”
All of this occurred after years of struggling through school. Khalil found the village he was looking for when he connected with Got Green. As a volunteer, and eventually a member of the Board of Directors, he says his Got Green family grounded him. “I don’t know where I would have been if I hadn’t kept myself busy with the volunteer work I was doing with them, and just getting involved,” he said. “That was kind of my therapy.”
He was attracted to the “very real problems” Got Green spoke of, from unemployment to access to health care. But at the time, Khalil was working and in school, and “didn’t think these things applied to me,” he said of Got Green’s issue areas. But with the downturn of the economy, things changed. “Only when I lost my job and seeing how certain things in the system are broken, did I realize the work that we are doing here is real.”
Khalil says what makes Got Green special is that they try to do something about inequities.
“They try to be the voice that not too many people have,” he said. “That’s why I stay with Got Green; it just feels good to make a difference. Each one of us is trying to live with purpose in our own way. I’m just trying to do the same.”
(by Ben Henry, from Got Green’s Annual Organizing Report: 2012: The Year of Emerging Leaders)