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Awe-Inspiring Advocate Series — Meet Rolando

Rolando is DASH’s Community Housing Resource Specialist located at Virginia Williams Family Resource Center, DC’s main entry point for families experiencing homelessness.

Throughout this pandemic, he has shifted from seeing survivors face to face to conducting intakes and meetings by phone; he is doing a lot of crisis intervention work to help ensure that survivors are safe during the stay-at-home orders. At times, he receives a call from someone talking quietly or speaking only in yes/no answers, and he learns that the abuser is there in the room with them.

“When they are calling us, it means they have reached a breaking point. Asking for help is always the last thing – it means they are out of all other options.”

Rolando explains the process he takes survivors through when they call:

“I always try to remember that when they are calling, they are in a moment of despair so I try to keep it as simple as possible and take on whatever I can take on to relieve them of their anxiety.”

After walking survivors through the process, Rolando does what he can to relieve the burden on the survivor in their moment of crisis, whether that’s by calling landlords or finding out information on their behalf. That way, he can return to the survivor to guide them through their next steps to make the process of leaving and finding safe housing as calming and seamless as possible.

Knowing that the pandemic has put even more people at risk of violence and abuse, Rolando stays motivated by knowing that “an already vulnerable population is made more vulnerable” by COVID-19.

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