In addition to its primarily mission of connecting individuals to resources via accompaniment, Taller de José also serves as a welcoming community to university students like me to have a multicultural and interfaith experience. As a student from Dominican University majoring in Business and Theology, I was introduced to a special opportunity that allowed me to combine my passion for community service with my interest for the business world: an internship program known as Ministry en lo Cotidiano or “Ministry in the Everyday.” The Director of Campus Ministry suggested that I consider Taller de José as my ministry site. At first, I was a little hesitant to accept his suggestion because this invitation required me to come out of my comfort zone. I did not think I had the qualities, and preparation to embark in this experience. However, I decided to take el toro por los cuernos, “the bull by the horns”, and I accepted the invitation. I realized that eventually I would have to let go of opportunities and experiences that give me the security and comfort I am used to.
I can now say that Taller de José has become a place, where I have experienced the presence of God among a living and vibrant community that smiles and loves even in the midst of the adversities of unjust systems. I never thought that the ministry of accompaniment at Taller de José would be so rewarding. The clients have thought to fight my fears and insecurities through their strength and perseverance; they have accompanied in my own struggles and hardships; they have clothed with their faith; they have showed me that service is not always working with yours hands; it is also working with an open heart.
Such is the case, while accompanying my clients to the different sites where often times the outcome is not the expected and we have to go back for the following week or consecutive months. But the clients’ strength, strong conviction and faith in God, impresses me. For instance, there was a particular client whose love for her two children touched my heart. When Sr. Betty introduced me to Maria and one of her sons with special needs, both looked very happy and full of joy regardless the circumstances. During a trip to the Daley Center, I was amazed by Maria’s narrative of love about her sons. She did not care about the hard work and challenges that are required to take care of a person with disabilities, in this case her youngest son. I thought to myself, “if I were in this situation, I do not think I would be able to handle everything that this woman is going through” I was amazed by her love, dedication and constant fight to keep her youngest son by her side. She continued sharing, “No one would take care of my son better than I would. I do not have an education, but I am willing to learn whatever I need to learn to assist my son according to his needs. God will give me the strength and intelligence to do that.” With a big smile on her face she concluded, “I have already learned sign language. I tell my son, I will always be there for him.” Regardless the language barriers, and lack of knowledge about the court systems, Maria was willing to fight until the end. I impressed and speechless with Maria’s dedication and sacrificial love, only a mother would do for the sake of her children.
It has been the constant passion, faith, and strength from the clients in the midst of their obstacles, suffering, and heavy weight of their daily burdens that have made me fall in love with the ministry of accompaniment at Taller de José.