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  • 2018 12. December
    • 07

      Joining Our Voices Together

      • News
      • Announcement
      December 7, 2018 | United Way Staff
      United Way staff member Sam Blackwell at a photoshoot in downtown Minneapolis

      ​United Way Staff Commentary
      By Sam Blackwell, Program Officer, Household Stability

      Sometimes, I look back and reflect on the time when I started my career at a local nonprofit in the Twin Cities as an AmeriCorps member. My title was Income Supports Navigator, which meant I helped people navigate complex systems so they could get the support they needed. This ranged from employment help to food support to toys for their kids during the holidays.

      Often, I would call case managers at the county to confirm a client’s income or translate letters from landlords for Spanish-speaking clients or help my clients (many of whom were undocumented) file their taxes. I was fresh out of college, just 22 years old, from a tiny but wealthy town in Wisconsin. I had never struggled to find support the way my clients did. Meetings were often stressful for them and for me, but when we were able to move towards a goal together, it was immensely rewarding.

      One day I’ll never forget is the day Marissa walked into my office. She’d been a participant in some of my financial literacy classes and liked to good-naturedly give me a hard time by making fun of my less-than-perfect Spanish. But when Marissa walked in that day, her demeanor was totally different – friendly Marissa was gone, and there was an anxious woman in her place.

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