Regina Vindel, Canal Alliance Workforce Development Career Navigator, spoke to us about her experiences and conversations while communicating with clients during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
As part of the volunteer Emergency Support team for Canal Alliance, my role has been to call clients who have contacted us for financial help to pay for their rent and bills. I thought this would be the perfect task for me, but as I started to make the phone calls, I realized this was not going to be easy. As of today, I have called about 300 clients. The stories from some of the families are heart breaking.
What have been the stories that stood out to you during your conversations with clients?
There are so many different stories I could share. Last week, I called a single mother whose teenage daughter died last year. She started to tell me how she had been going through a very difficult time with her grief, and then she opened up about her experience as a struggling immigrant. While the client was fighting through her grief, she had managed to work part time cleaning houses in the past year, but that work evaporated with the county’s shelter in place order. Currently, she has no source of income. I told her we could help her financially through our Client Support Fund. She started to cry, and was extremely thankful and felt so relieved. She told me she feels like there is hope again. Having this conversation with this mother made me realize the big impact we are making in the lives of families.
Another memorable story for me is of a young man, 19 years old, who was in such desperate financial need that he had continued going to “La Parada” (the corner where day laborers seek work). He was living day to day and had no savings. This young man was going out during this crisis hoping he would be able to find work and earn some money for the day. He was willing to do work in construction, gardening and manual labor. He told me he did not care about his health; he was in desperate need to get a little money to help his family. Through the Client Support Fund, we were able to provide him with the money he needed to buy food in order to feed his hungry family.
What else would you like others to know about the work you’ve been doing?
The sentiment from the clients that we are helping has been overwhelming to me with their gratitude and appreciation. People have to know that they are not alone and that they are being heard. I feel grateful to be making these calls and for Canal Alliance to be able to bring folks some ray of hope in the midst of this pandemic.
Learn more about our Crisis Response & Impact
While we hear many devastating individual stories, we are inspired by the resilience of our clients. We are also heartened by the generosity of our volunteers and donors who support our emergency response efforts.