In some cases, clients come to Taller for a single visit, receive the support and referrals they need, and do not need to return. In other cases, Taller has longstanding relationships with clients that last for years. Mariela and Gabriel are two of those clients, and their stories are indicative of the courage and strength of those long term clients who continue to advocate for themselves.
A monolingual Spanish speaker, Mariela lives with blindness. Though she is an American citizen, she has no family in the country to assist her. Taller companions support Mariela, serving as both eyes and voice when they accompany her to medical appointments. They help her advocate to the insurance company on her own behalf, a task difficult enough even when one has the vision and language skills needed to comprehend letters from the insurance company. In all of these actions, Taller de José seeks to ensure that Mariela is heard and included in systems that would otherwise exclude or ignore her. Mariela really is her own best advocate, and the compañera(o)s at Taller de José serve as companions, bridging the gaps of language or vision when necessary.
Gabriel has fought for custody of his seven-year-old daughter since she was taken away from her mother, a drug addict. Because she lives in Pennsylvania, he has to negotiate interstate trips for court hearings. There is an additional problem: he only speaks Spanish, while her mother raised her speaking only English. Gabriel has come to Taller de Jose for help finding English classes so he can communicate with his daughter, and for help translating phone calls, court documents and even birthday cards to send to her. It remains a long battle, but he is committed to finally reuniting with his daughter so they can be a family. And Taller de José will be his companion along that journey, facing the ups and downs alongside him.