Coming Full Circle: Armando’s Story
By Jill Messinger, Communications Coordinator
Armando is a good listener. As a Volunteer Client Advocate at The Action Center, he listens to clients tell him their story and current situation and provides them with program information and resources so they can stabilize their lives. In an average volunteer shift, Armando meets with 10-12 clients, assessing their needs and helping them ultimately break the cycle of poverty. Unbeknownst to many, Armando came to The Action Center himself many years ago, looking for someone to listen to his story and help his immediate needs.
Nearly a decade ago, Armando was stably housed, employed and had just welcomed a son with his girlfriend. Shortly after, life threw him a curve ball and he was unexpectedly laid off from his job. He began falling behind on his rent and utilities and knew he needed to ask for help in order to protect his new family. He approached Jefferson County Human Services in hopes that they could assist him financially so he could keep a roof over his family’s head. Human Services referred Armando to The Action Center, where he met with a Volunteer Client Advocate who helped him acquire financial assistance for rent and utilities. All it took was for one person to hear Armando’s story in order for him to get his life back on track. Within the next month, Armando was able to secure employment as a construction worker and was once again financially secure. However, the construction business can be unstable, and to avoid another volatile situation, Armando made the decision to return to school to earn a college degree. His previous experience with Human Services and The Action Center persuaded him to major in Social Work with a minor in Spanish, so that he could help individuals who found themselves in challenging situations as he did not long ago.
A requirement of Armando’s college classes was to volunteer on a regular basis. He immediately thought of The Action Center, and the Volunteer Client Advocate who had listened to his story all those years ago. Armando volunteered at the front desk of The Action Center before being asked to train to become a Volunteer Client Advocate. After completing his college volunteer requirements, Armando continued as a volunteer at The Action Center – partially for the social work experience, but mostly because he is passionate about listening to and assisting those in need. He is calm, trustworthy and easy to talk to – which makes him a fantastic advocate for clients seeking help. Armando admits that it’s his “personal experiences that have driven him to where he is today.”
Today, Armando is a proud single father, finishing his Social Work degree at Metro State University. He continues to volunteer at The Action Center as often as he can, and is well-liked and respected by clients, staff and other volunteers. After he graduates, Armando hopes to find a job working with troubled and homeless youth. He believes his previous situation proves that anyone can move past difficult times, all it takes is someone’s willingness to listen.