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Seeking Justice in a Pandemic: Carmen Guzman and Her Fight to Feed a Community

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Carmen Guzman Adm. Assistant/Parent Liaison has been working with this community for many years. She has been working as a case manager for COVID Response Network and has shared her experience with the Hispanic community in Pontiac.

“We have been paying bills, helping with unemployment, providing food, tutoring and the most important part is that sometimes people need someone to talk to and I am a very good listener. Every single family has a story to tell,” she said.

Covid Response Network organizes food deliveries for families in Pontiac. Carmen Guzmen delivers food every Saturday morning to Hispanic families.

“I have so many stories to share. I see so much pain around me; so much injustice and
hunger that can be difficult to articulate. Having the opportunity to work within the
School District of the City of Pontiac gave me the opportunity to know and enjoy the
magnificent opportunity that God gave me to serve this community. One of my most difficult cases is a family with two teenagers. I have known this family for at least 10
years. The father, a very hard working father, became very sick and unable to work.
Many of our families came from other countries such as Mexico to find a better place to
live. Mexico is a wealthy country with many resources and with very advanced
universities and industry; however, due to corruption and crime, many Mexicans are
forced to live in poverty in spite of living in such a promising country. Seeing these
families working hard to better their lives brings joy to my heart. So many families are
here looking for an opportunity to improve themselves, but unfortunately many also
discover racism, class-based discrimination, poverty, and other social issues related to
the previously-stated issues. The family I mentioned wants their children to graduate
and go to college. The oldest son is graduating from I.T.A . this year with excellent
grades. One of his first cousins asked him, “why are you so excited to go to school; you
will not go anywhere; no school will accept”. The child’s mother reached out to me, and I helped him to do his FAFSA and apply for Oakland University. He was surprised
when he found out that he was accepted, and he also received a scholarship. During
these difficult times his mother has not been able to work and provide for the family, and
because they don’t have social security numbers, they are not allowed to collect
unemployment. Every time she receives food, she texts me and thanks everyone for helping her family and calls us amazing.” She said.

“My job gives me the opportunity to help people in need. It has given me the opportunity to get to know a community that was unknown to me, even though I come from the same country. Unfortunately, I have also been affected by this pandemic. My husband has been unemployed since March. He now has to have a heart surgery, my two sons have finished their undergrad and have no jobs other than working in something that has nothing to do with their education. It has been a challenge to me. What keeps me awake is not knowing what will happen the next day. Who will be there to help, but at least I know that I was created to help this wonderful community and that I have to put my own situation on the side in order to help the others who need more help than I do,” she said.

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