The Little Things that Make a Big Difference

Each year, our AmeriCorps Members make a big impact, even on seemingly little things.  Jorge Lopez, a three-term AmeriCorps Member, is one of those individuals.

He served at the Oakwood Forest Community Center. A big part of the work AmeriCorps Members like Jorge do is connecting clients with resources. So when a mother came to him with a concern about her daughter, Britany, needing new glasses, Jorge began looking for resources.

The mother knew that Britany’s school might be able to assist, but did not know how and was having trouble getting more information because of her limited English. Jorge began to search around and found out that there is an eyeglass voucher program for Guilford County School students.

Jorge reached out to the school counselor in order to get the process started. The counselor shared the information and steps needed to make this happen. Jorge worked with the mom to make the necessary appointments and phone calls. At first, they did not hear back from the school for a few weeks. Once they ultimately did, the school counselor said that the student in question had received an eye examination and it was determined that the student did not need glasses.

After a little more investigation Jorge realized that they checked the wrong student! A few more weeks, phone calls, emails, and forms later, Britany had her eye exam! She received a voucher to purchase new glasses, and finally got them!

Roughly three months from when Britany’s mom asked for help, Jorge was able to get Britany the glasses she needed. Jorge feels that the journey of getting these glasses highlights how simple things can be easily complicated when someone is new to the U.S. and does not know how to navigate the systems and does not know about resources.

“Looking back, I remember how exasperating this was; that something that should have taken no more than two weeks ended up taking SIX TIMES that amount.” Jorge shares.

Having the glasses has made a big difference for Britany. Thankfully, there are people like Jorge who connect newcomers in our community to resources and walk alongside them to get the things they need, even the seemingly little things that have a profound impact, like a pair of glasses.

Written by Nicole Plante, Elon University, International and Global Studies, Intern, spring 2019

Jorge served one year as an AmeriCorps ACCESS member, and two years as anAmeriCorps Partnership to End Homelessness member.  He is currently a Community Health Worker with CNNC’s Immigrant Health ACCESS Project.