by Mary LaVigne
Where to begin. That seems to be ringing through my head as I try to find the words to express all that this past year has been. Serving at Taller de José has been a gift and a privilege. I had heard the word accompaniment before starting at Taller de Jose, but I didn’t really understand the depth of its meaning. In a year overwhelmed by fear, isolation, uncertainty, and change, I am so grateful to have been able to journey with others. So many faces and voices are crossing my mind; masks couldn’t hide the full range of emotions I both felt and witnessed throughout my time here.
There was one instance recently while on an off-site accompaniment that stands out in my reflection. I recently accompanied a client to a colonoscopy appointment at a hospital downtown, and it was quite a long day. I left my house at 8:15am and didn’t get home until 7:00pm that night. There were undoubtedly periods of loneliness and boredom as I sat in the hospital waiting room, but that wasn’t what I held onto. At one point in the afternoon, one of the nurses came out to make sure I was still there and that I could accompany my client home. She asked if I was related to her, and I said no and explained a bit about Taller and that we offer medical accompaniment to advocate with clients and interpret as needed. The nurse looked at me and said, “how can I get involved?! I want to volunteer.” She was amazed at how our organization walks with others in this way. In that moment, I was reminded of the “why.” The why I said yes to this role back in Spring of 2020. Later on that evening, I was saying goodbye to my client, and she started sharing about her neighborhood, where nearby transit stations and stops were, and how to get to them. She lived in the suburbs and knew I had a bit of a journey getting home but was eager to help me navigate my way home. This ministry is truly reciprocal.
This year has brought about creative new ways to build and foster community, and I am so grateful for all I had the gift of accompanying, and all who accompanied me. I am not always the best at transitions. I enjoy looking ahead and looking forward to what comes next, but Taller has reminded me every day to remain present. I will miss this amazing organization and know I will carry it with me always.