Waiting is the hardest part, says DASH Network Advocate Program volunteer Tracy Polanco (center). She says more advocates are needed to provide friendship and support to seekers like B (left) and R (right) as they go through the legal process.
I know what it is like to be scared for my life, to wonder if I can come back to the place where I was staying each day, and what it feels like to pray for someone to come alongside me and truly care… not for just a moment.
I’ve been homeless several times in my life. I know what it feels like to have to sleep on someone’s toddler bed, couch, or floor, to hope for a spare dollar to get a cheeseburger, and to wonder if things will ever get better.
Taken from birth to an adoptive placement home, I didn’t understand the meaning of family from the very beginning. I didn’t feel loved or wanted because it was something I was told all the time. I went out on my own at 16, totally depending on the goodness of others. Not everyone I came across had good intentions, but over the years I found a heavenly Father who is good. I’ve made a lot of mistakes, and realize the benefits of having someone, like an advocate, to go through it with.
My story is one of victory. Each person I come across, a piece of their story is also a piece of mine, and I believe it was a part of His plan. He took what was broken and used it to grow His Kingdom. It is humbling to go through so much, then see how God uses it to help others struggling through similar circumstances. I know how it feels not to understand the purpose in the thick of it.
DASH has power over nothing without the Lord and is why “living life on life” as family, is so important. We all need prayer, counsel, and friendship just as much as anyone else. Why shouldn’t we do it together?
This program isn’t new, just renewed. It was called the Mentor Program in its first year. We decided to change the name to something that resembled more of the relationship we wanted to achieve; people side by side, walking through life as friends and family, and supporting and fighting through difficulties; not someone who is looking down on you from a higher position, trying to pull them up. My friends are highly capable people, who are in this circumstance where they are unable to do things, because English is not their first language, American culture is different from their own, and processes are difficult to understand.
Being involved in Dash has changed my mind about what family means and what living life on life with people should look like.
Our lives in America are so hectic and I understand that we cannot add time to our schedules, so think about what you are currently doing and invite others to come along. If you’re going to the grocery store for your family, take them with you and explain what the food is and how to use it. If you are reading a good book, discuss it over video chat. Teach each other a new language, and venture out around town, just be intentional.
Having someone to count on in an uncertain circumstance, is what the program is all about; friends who think of them, a family to call if in need. You are committing to be a friend. People are not a task list to be checked off and is why we have added new processes to volunteer for this position.
We want to make sure both advocates and people seeking asylum, are well supported. Advocates and their friends will both have a community they can reach out to for help and support. The program’s goal is for advocates to be in community with each other and the larger Dash community to alleviate isolation. Myself, along with my assistant Victoria, will provide ongoing training and support for all who join the program as advocates and asylum seekers.
We have a need for advocates to come alongside those currently serving. If you are interested in becoming an advocate, the advocate application form is available here. The application includes a role description and details more of the expectations, once completed is sent directly to me and either I or Victoria, will be in contact with you within two days.
–– by Tracy Polanco,