By Alexis DomÍnguez, Jesuit Volunteer Corps Volunteer and Compañero
What I am most grateful for as a Compañero is being able to witness the sense of relief, joy, and gratitude that radiates from the clients after receiving the assistance they were desperately seeking and the sense of hope that springs forth from such encounters.
One particular client comes to mind.
Like every ordinary day, I looked at my calendar to see who I had scheduled, and I found that it was an over-the-phone appointment, so I called that client.
My client said he was seeking financial assistance for his overdue light and gas bills, which were both close to disconnection. I called one of our partner organizations that helps to facilitate funding for utility assistance, and we scheduled an appointment to see if he qualified for such assistance. Considering the language barrier (my client only spoke Spanish, and the organization couldn’t guarantee a Spanish-speaking staff member), I agreed to accompany my client on the day of his appointment.
A few days later, my client walked into our office and patiently waited as I prepare for our appointment. I realized, to my dismay, that he was missing a letter proving his SNAP benefits, a requirement for his appointment. Luckily, an Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) office was close to the site. After our visit to IDHS and receiving the letter, we followed through with our appointment for utility assistance. After answering a few questions and providing the necessary documentation, my client qualified for $1,150 for his gas and an additional $530 for the light bill. After receiving the news, my client’s face shined a ray of hope that made it all worth it.
Moments such as these make being a Compañero a great privilege.