By Marbella Barajas
During my internship at Taller de José, one of the accompaniments that impacted me the most was an adult guardianship case. Clients who seek adult guardianship usually do so because they have an adult son or daughter with severe disabilities who needs the assistance of a guardian to make major decisions on their behalf. I remember that when I saw an accompaniment scheduled for this particular case, I immediately asked if I could be a part of it. It was very important for me to participate because a very special person in my life will have to go through a similar process.
I remember very clearly the moment in which the clients arrived with their son and they seemed nervous; I did not blame them. We had to wait for a couple of minutes, for Sr. Theresa to arrive, as she would also be going with us on that day. In the meanwhile, I did not want the clients to feel nervous or scared, so I started a conversation with them. I asked them to tell me about their son, and when they shared that he was autistic, everything changed for me. In a just a couple of minutes, I felt a connection with the parents and with their son, and I explained to them that I walked in their same shoes. Puzzled, they looked at me, and I told them that I understood their situation and their struggles, for my brother was also autistic and we lived very similar experiences.
From that moment, my relationship with the clients changed because they felt comfortable and not alone anymore. I made sure that they understood how grateful I was to them for letting me accompany them and learn from their experience. I was feeling a great sense of relief and hope for me and my family because we will likely be doing the same adult guardianship process as well. And of course, they were thankful that Sr. Theresa and I were there for them. The highlight of my day was when the young man grabbed my arm as support on our way back to Taller, and although he cannot speak, I knew that this was his way of showing his trust and gratitude. The companionship and guidance offered by Taller de José helped this family cross the bridge that was this young man’s transition into adulthood. And the learning was mutual; this family also showed me how to cross that bridge, a bridge that will help my family and I cross the other side, one that has a brighter side and is full of hope.
Marbella Barajas is a graduating senior at Dominican University. Through a program at Dominican, Ministry En Lo Cotidiano (MLC), or “Ministry in the everyday,” she has served as a part-time intern at Taller de José since September 2014. MLC is a leadership development and faith formation program for undergraduate students with a goal of developing Latin@ lay leaders for the future of the Church and the Latin@ community in the United States. You can read a reflection by Aida Lopez, another MLC student who interned at Taller de José this year here.