September 30, 2010

Volunteer Spotlight: Elena A. Alvarez

Elena A. Alvarez was a translator for the World Bank for decades. She’s now retired, but has continued serving as a translator for Bread for the City. Since 2002, Elena has been a volunteer English-Spanish translator for our Legal Clinic. Ms. Alvarez provides excellent written translations of legal documents, such as settlement agreements and court orders for our housing and family law clients. She has also translated into Spanish many other documents so that the Legal Clinic staff can better communicate with clients, as well as with unrepresented opposing parties who also speak only Spanish. (Elena has translated many documents for our Medical Clinic as well.)

Our Legal Clinic, particularly in the NW Center, serves a significant number of Spanish-speaking immigrants. Over the past 8 years, Elena’s pro bono services have saved Bread for the City thousands upon thousands of dollars, money that we have been able to re-direct to other programmatic needs. But, more importantly, thanks to Elena’s expertise and generosity of time, the Legal Clinic has been able to make justice more accessible to our Spanish-speaking clients.

During highly stressful times in our clients’ lives – the threat of losing their housing or custody of a child – Elena’s translations help Bread for the City attorneys make sure that their clients understand what is going on in their case and that their clients are, accordingly, treated with dignity and respect. This is a priceless service to both Bread for the City and our clients, and we cannot thank Elena enough for this gift that she so selflessly keeps giving to us every year.

It is volunteers like Elena that make our work possible. Even after more than 35 years of service, volunteers still remain at the heart of everything we do. And so we gather each fall to honor our volunteers, celebrate the work we've done together, as well as look ahead at accomplishments yet to come. Bread for the City's 5th Annual Good Hope Awards will be held on Thursday, October 7 at the National Press Club. It is a time when we step back and offer a huge "THANK YOU!" to all of our incredible volunteers.

-- Thanks to Su Sie Ju, Esq., our Northwest Legal Clinic Supervisor, for contributing to this post.

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