Kim and Alba are new staffers but familiar faces at Casa de Paz. Both women started volunteering in 2019 and were hired in late 2021 to assist residents and help the house run more smoothly.
Alba, who is studying marketing management at Cincinnati State, learned of Casa de Paz as part of her scholarship from the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), which required volunteer work at a participating agency. She now serves as a Volunteer Coordinator and Family Support Specialist, doing everything from enrolling kids in school to coordinating donations to finding help for pregnant residents. Alba is a native of Veracruz, Mexico, and finds it helpful to bridge cultures as she helps women navigate the difficult waters of independence.
“A lot of the women depended on their husbands, and they are isolated because they don’t know the language,” she says. “In the kitchen is where we have the best conversations. I start cooking and pretty soon everyone is gathered in the kitchen, and that’s when you find out what’s really going on.”
Kim, a marketing student at the University of Cincinnati-Blue Ash and a native of Cincinnati, also began volunteering through LULAC. She assists residents with the phone calls and mountains of paperwork they are required to complete, keeps track of therapist and doctor appointments, and completes other office tasks and errands such as grocery-store runs.
For both women, walking with residents day today has provided an opportunity to use lessons that were abstractions before they started at Casa de Paz.
“I know about mental health and I know how the mind works, but seeing it in person, putting yourself in their shoes – you wonder how else you can help,” Kim says. “They’ve been through so much. I try to have a connection with them, so if they have something on their mind they can talk about it and not just try to stick it out alone.”
Kim and Alba also hope to help each resident create a plan for the future, so they aren’t just mired in the tasks of daily survival but are reaching for personal goals. While the work is never done, they hope Casa de Paz supporters know that even small gestures have a huge impact on the women they serve.
“If you have even a little bit of time, bring it here,” Kim says. “It can be art, crafts, music – even just a couple of hours, it’s very helpful for them.”