Last week, I was given the task of listening to and sorting through old voicemails, which had mistakenly been directed to the wrong voicemail box. I was excited – finally, I would get to use the headset that the caseworkers were constantly on. The first few messages were nothing interesting – just some interdepartmental questions on old faxes and a somewhat passive-aggressive request to clean out the kitchen fridge. I clicked “delete,” then moved on.
“Buenos días, mi nombre es…” I hit “pause” on the machine, my brain whirring into high school Spanish mode. After a couple of breaths and a downloading of the Google Translate app, I pushed “play” again. When the recording had finished, I sat back in my chair, uncertain if I had heard the message correctly. I listened to the recording five times over, before I was fairly sure of my translation. The man was a tenant in a Seattle apartment. And for a week, the man’s landlord had refused to repair his kitchen appliances. So, for a week, he had been living on a diet of canned beans. I checked the time stamp of the message – it had been received four months ago.
There are other messages that stand out in my mind – the hurried whispers of a mother living with an abusive son and having nowhere else to turn, the hopeful voice of a homeless man trying to wipe an eviction off of his record. Whether through mechanical failure or a generally overburdened bureaucratic system, these people’s situations, and others like them, do not get proper attention. Solid Ground’s mission to help people in need, from those struggling with housing to individuals facing hunger, is something that I’m proud to be a part of. And, hopefully, the people behind those messages I’ve listened to might still benefit from Solid Ground’s help.
By Jennifer Hoffman