On Your Feet Again: Navigating Transitions during COVID-19

Generations of Community Leadership

Feet, what do I need you for when I have wings to fly? – Frida Kahlo

After a year full of challenges, ups, and downs, we found ourselves in a moment of transition. We are still experiencing the consequences and after-effects the COVID-19 crisis has left in our community. At the same time, we’re witnessing testimonies of resilience and the strength of families getting back some level of stability and relief.

Normalcy looks different in 2021 and beyond than it did in 2019.

On one hand, some people have been able to stand up and find new rhythms of life. Some community members have returned to their previous jobs. Others have started small businesses and found ways to sustain their families. This is the case of Mrs. Alejandra, who began selling tortillas, cheeses, traditional Salvadorian clothes, and “all that can be sold” while she takes care of her children. Like her, many other women in the community have found creative ways to generate opportunities during the crisis.

On the other hand, we see a contrasting reality of families continuing to experience instability and uncertainty, guessing what will happen tomorrow. This is the story of Mr. Carlos, who has not found a permanent job because of his advanced age nor received his retirement funds due to his legal immigration status.

As a team, we have had to learn how to navigate this in-betweenness. We practice the love Jesus taught us by keeping our hearts open, supporting those who still struggle while celebrating those who have taken flight.

On many occasions, both realities converge at our community center. There are days when we just accompany neighbors struggling to keep going. Then there are others in which we are with them to receive amazing news, such as when the Virginia State Rent Relief Program notified Mrs. Oliva that her application was approved. She received the amount she owed, plus an additional three months of rent. This news came after months of waiting and lots of paperwork.

“I am grateful for all the help you have provided; this will help me and my family to move forward. I do not know how to pay you,” Mrs. Olivia said with her eyes full of tears.

When someone asks me, “How can I pay you back?” I don’t have many words to share but a sense of rejoicing. I tell them that it is all God’s provision, the support of many people connected to our community praying and donating. All this support allows us to walk with our neighbors into the next season.

I have learned in this transitional season is that it matters the way we wait and walk with those who await. The most important thing is not what we do after the crisis has passed but our attitude during the storm amid all that tension, remembering that Jesus is in our boat in the midst of the fiercest storms. (Matthew 8:23-28).

Liz Arrazola Wang – Community Development Director at Casa Chirilagua

Charity Name
Casa Chirilagua
Photo Credit
Juan Martinez