Tulane VISTA Blog

Fighting Poverty with Passion

Navidad at La Cooperativa

¡Feliz Navidad! All right, it’s still not Navidad, but I can certainly pretend like it is! And speaking of Navidad, I’m certainly looking forward to a break from all the shenanigans that life has thrown at me lately. Fortunately, things have been going along quite smoothly here at La Cooperativa.

Our only Christmas wish at La Cooperativa is that this tree doesn't start an electrical fire.

Our only Christmas wish at La Cooperativa is that this tree doesn’t start an electrical fire.

In fact, you can read about just how calm things have been around here in my upcoming memoir The Fern Within, which couldn’t have been written without the help of our paid Tulane interns and service learners. Just kidding! Of course they didn’t get paid, you dingus! I wasn’t going to pay them in the first place. Fictional and grandiose memoirs aside, things have certainly improved here. I finally feel more comfortable about La Cooperativa’s future than I have in previous months. Certain things seem to never change, though: for one, our members continue to come in and out of the office with this or that issue. And not one day goes by without at least three phone calls from people asking for “El Muchacho” (The Boy), aka our Caseworker. It’s tempting to answer, “Yes, I am El Muchacho!”

El Muchacho helping out a needy AmeriCorps VISTA.

El Muchacho helping out a needy AmeriCorps VISTA.

Our caseworker is so popular that one Saturday my boss received several calls from people looking for El Muchacho. She had to remind them that he only worked from Monday to Friday. “Why so?” was their unanimous response. Since it has become obvious how much of a hot commodity he is, and seeing that some of our members don’t understand our business hours, we’ll have to simply let El Muchacho live at La Cooperativa and deny him any right to go outside. Maybe we’ll just let him out once in a while for some fresh air, but that’ll only be done on probation until we’re confident that he won’t run off. I’ll be sure to send his family and friends a nice Christmas card that explains that there was just no other alternative. I can understand their desperation, though. What gets to me is the different levels of self-advocacy among our members. Some of them are on the ball about what they need to get done in order to keep themselves in good standing with SNAP while others seem too intimidated to try. Sometimes I wonder if it’s something to do with cultural differences. A coworker and I have noticed that our members from Nicaragua tend to take on a larger responsibility in dealing with their cases when compared to our Honduran members. She pointed out to me that Nicaragua has had a long history of social activism, which could explain why our Nicaraguan members are more prone to taking on more responsibility for their cases. Of course, these are just observations. Neither of us knew much about Honduran culture or history to make a fair assessment. If we do manage to continue our Oral History Project in January, though, I would certainly like to explore this issue further.

I would like to take a moment to thank our volunteers, service learners, and interns from Tulane for all the hard work that they put in while serving at La Cooperativa this semester. Though I doubt any of them are going to read this, I, nevertheless, feel like La Cooperativa owes a debt of gratitude to all them. Each one of them played a role in shaping our organization. I can’t wait to meet the new batch of minions we’ll be getting next month. Well, thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to read my modest blog post. I wish you and yours a nice Navidad and a happy New Year!

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This entry was posted on December 25, 2013 by in VISTA Field Reports.

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