My name is Manny Abarca IV and I was raised to give back. I grew up learning from the example of my grandfather, Manuel Abarca, Jr. as he generously gave away homemade tamales to friends and family, or contracting home repair jobs to a neighbor out of work. I watched as my mom selflessly donated her time and energy to a local Girl Scout troop allowing my sister and other young girls access to valuable life experiences.
I am fortunate to come from a large family, with a grand total of 6 siblings from both my mother’s and father’s sides. My mother sacrificed her educational goals to work long hours, ensuring that we had food on the table and supplies for school. She still managed to instill in me the value of school and inspired me to invest in my education. Simultaneously, I observed the work ethic of both my father and grandfather, Teamster truck drivers who worked the overnight shift, putting in their time to earn their well-deserved pensions. My family modeled for me what it means to be dedicated and hard-working in order to provide a quality life in the future. It is the values they taught me which drive my focus and efforts today.
I attended the University of Central Missouri, where I earned my Bachelor’s degree in Political Science. I remained at UCM and pursued a Master’s degree in Occupational Safety Management, with a focus in environmental sustainability. It was during my time at UCM that I learned first-hand, the value of good public policy and the need for people to stand up for each other and for justice. I invested my efforts in the plight of undocumented students and immigrant communities, and later in the preservation of our environment. As a result of my endeavors, I learned early on that in order to change a system, support is a necessity.
After returning to Kansas City, I distributed free recycling bins to neighborhoods as part of my work for a local environmental non-profit. It was during this initiative to encourage better recycling program participation, that I first visited the Northeast. I immediately found myself drawn to the area, and felt that I could wholly immerse myself in community involvement.
I moved to Indian Mound 4 years ago and began looking for ways that my skills and interests could fit in with the needs of the community. Northeast is easy to fall in love with, with its beautiful parks and landscapes, historic architecture, diverse cultures, and the many other attributes that make our community special. It is without a doubt that Independence Avenue, Budd Park, Englewood, Fairmount, and our local business and families are worth investing in.
After joining the Indian Mound Neighborhood Association, I took on the monumental challenge of rallying the community to save historic Thacher Elementary school, despite a city establishment’s efforts to tear it down. Although we were unable to preserve the school, the additional goals of community organization, fighting for a deserving cause, and showing greater Kansas City that the Historic Northeast is much more than the negative stereotypes we all fight against, were immeasurably successful.
In Congressman Emanuel Cleaver’s office, I have advocated for constituent needs across Missouri’s 5th Congressional District. I actively work to improve policy in areas which affect all demographics, from Medicare and Social Security, accessible health insurance, and corruption in lending institutions, to immigration reform and contesting federal bureaucracy to ensure all constituents have access to the programs and support they need. My efforts have allowed me to learn about areas and organizations I was previously unfamiliar with including the Independence School District ESL program or local commerce in downtown Sugar Creek. All of my experiences have ultimately taught me the importance of hard work and compromise to accomplish greater good, despite being up against a strong opposing majority.
I want to share with the rest of the state what those of us here already know: that the 19th district is worth investing in. I vow that your voices will be heard and I will not stop working until public safety, the schools where our children get their educations, and the jobs in which we work to provide for our families, are at the standard that we all know we deserve. Every single person in this district is worth investing in, and I will not stop investing in YOU.