By Brenda Rodriguez
Driving down the 24th Boulevard is something that I would do frequently. Never would I have imagined that on my daily driving trips I would overlook a gem in the Little Village Community. As someone who grew up in a close-knit community I never really pictured myself in another community. Little Village is a warm and vibrant community with wonderful people and I am proud to be a part of such a wonderful team.
I began working at Taller de José in August 2016. It was a bit overwhelming at first. There were so many people that needed our services; I found it difficult to understand that there were so many people that did not have access to resources that I thought were readily available. At Taller de José, we see people who are in all types of situations. Out of all of my responsibilities; I feel that my biggest responsibility is to make people feel welcomed. I try to put myself in their shoes. Some of these people have been turned down before; some feel like the whole world is coming down on their shoulders.
Recently, a woman came to Taller de José for the first time, and as she waited, I could tell that she began to get nervous. I stepped away from my desk, sat across from her, and I asked if she was okay. The woman began to cry. She mentioned that she was stressed and that she felt like she couldn’t trust people anymore. I handed her a box of tissues and I told her that her compañera was a really great person, easy to talk to, and kind hearted. The woman smiled a bit.
Sometimes I wonder if what I do or tell them makes a difference. I smile at everyone that comes to Taller de José because I like for them to feel welcomed, and if they return to Taller de José, then they are able to see a familiar face. One day I received some information from our Executive Director; she showed me that one of our clients had made a donation, and the note mentioned a compañero’s name and mine. That made me smile. It also made me realize that even though I do not physically accompany people to where they need to go, I am still able to play a small but important role in being present when they need someone by their side.