Dream Relief Day
"OK everyone, we're almost there, let's squeeze in for a quick picture!" Everyone is all smiles as we pull up to Chicago's Navy Pier on August 15th. The line is already winding its way onto the grassy space beside the road, having already extend the length of the pier. As we stand open-mouthed as the sheer volume of people, dedicated volunteer Alexx Lopez takes the lead and directs applicants while my coworker Janely Villa directs the volunteers.
As I literally run down the length of the pier to the Dream Relief Workshop in the grand ballroom, I think about the applicants and volunteers who have come with us that day. So positive, so engaged, so willing, so hopeful...the grand scale if the day's event becomes apparent to me as I run the length if the line of applicants and all I can think about are the faces that came on the bus with me all the way from Aurora.
Taking a seat at the workshop my coworkers quickly fill me in on our tasks. As the applicants file in, their excitement is contagious, as is their apprehension. Directing them to the correct sections of the workshop both eases their fears and sets the day in motion. Everyone is busy, running around, sharing information, it's wonderful to see everyone in action, helping one another in the best of spirits! Applicants are grateful and volunteers are energetic and excited.
I continue to stay in contact with both Alex and Janely throughout the day in regard to our bus-full from Aurora, but at each exchange I learn that they are busy volunteering, ALL of them! Whether through line control, voter registration, or at the college/resource fair, they were running to and fro helping all they could! News like that couldn't make me more proud...while they were all informed beforehand that most likely the were not going to be able to apply that day, their willingness and flexibility to simply pick up a yellow vest and volunteer was heart-warming.
Dream Relief Day was a success for many reasons: the 13,000 people line, the 1,500 who were assisted at the workshop, the scores of professional volunteers who donated their time and skills, but for me, the day was a complete success because representatives from my community went above and beyond. Upon their return to Aurora, free pizza and a presentation by an immigration lawyer awaited them. At the end of the day, all of their questions were answered and they all got hands experience. I cannot wait to work with them as we share this Dream Relief knowledge with the Aurora community!