“So what do you do?” is the question that most people ask when I say that I volunteer for the GRC. I’ve been trying to answer this question for myself, and after a little more than a month of being with the GRC, I feel I can give a pretty good answer, beyond the general mission statement.
The biggest service that the GRC provides is English as a Second Language, GED, and Citizenship classes for adults. We also provide access to basic needs like toiletries, diapers and bus passes. Beyond these services, everything else is whatever anyone who walks through the door needs.
In the past month I have helped a mom fill out an “All About My Family” form sent home from her daughters kindergarten class. I’ve helped people pay their bills over the phone and set up e-mail addresses. I’ve helped several people fill out job applications (which, for factory jobs involves a long and tedious survey asking in ten different ways if the applicant steals, punches their coworkers or does any number of illegal and prescription drugs). Recently I’ve spent most of my office time working with Abdi, a young man who both works for the GRC as a translator and receives tutoring for his community college courses from the teachers and other volunteers.
So what do we do?
We do ordinary. The everyday tasks that someone who speaks English might find ordinary, like paying a bill or checking e-mail becomes significantly more difficult when you don’t speak the language. So while our clients work towards become citizens, settling into the community, finding jobs and learning English, they can lean on the staff and volunteers at the GRC to help out with whatever they may need.