I have only been a Compañero at Taller de Jose for six weeks, yet I have had many eye-opening experiences. There was one client who especially stuck out to me, Cecilia*.
It started out just like any other meeting regarding translating and filling out some paperwork. In this case, it was regarding disability benefits. She desired to apply for these benefits due to no longer being able to work and not having any source of income besides SNAP–formerly known as food stamps– and social security. The legal packet of over 50 questions initially called for basic questions such as her name and date of birth, but gradually began asking for more and more personal facts. These more personal questions all prompted stories, each more heart wrenching then the previous. Some stories that were particularly difficult for her to recall was her ex-husband’s habit of being an absent father who has not paid child support in over three years, or when her employer discriminated against her and did not pay her just because of her immigration status. Throughout the questions, I felt true empathy and connection with her, as I understand the invisible scars discrimination can leave. To make the situation even more difficult, I learned that her landlord had intentions to evict her by the end of the month, which was just three days away.
I felt hopeless and wanted to help us much as I could. Fortunately, I remembered Taller de Jose’s Resource Binder. The Resource Binder is full of partner organizations that partner with Taller de Jose and specialize in services including immigration, legal, financial, housing, and domestic violence, health, senior care, and more. Taller de Jose does not try to replicate services that already exist, but rather aids in lowering the barrier so a client can receive the necessary help. I was glad to refer our client to organizations that could help her retrieve her stolen wages and unpaid child support, as well as house her, help find a new place to live, and aid in paying her rent.
I am glad to work at an organization that can lower barriers for people to access services to improve their lives. Taller also is unique by providing accompaniments. Compañer@s accompany clients to all types of appointments, from medical to legal, and help to translate. Our clients have many skills, gifts, and talents, and accompaniment from a Compañer@ helps to build on these gifts, giving clients the additional confidence, support, and knowledge to access the complex systems they need to navigate.
*client name and details have been changed to protect client confidentiality.