Chicago resident Laura Diaz, who grew up in the Little Village neighborhood, is dedicated to giving back to the city in which she has lived all her life. One of the many ways she does that is by volunteering with The Night Ministry.
Laura, a former Retail Operations Coordinator at True Value Hardware's corporate office, first heard about The Night Ministry during a program she attended as part of her service as a court-appointed advocate for abuse and neglected children.
"I've always been geared toward the route of helping people," she said. "When I learned what The Night Ministry does in terms of helping the homeless population, including members of the LGBTQ community, it really aligned with my vision of helping people."
Laura has been a regular volunteer for five years on The Night Ministry's Health Outreach Bus, which brings free health care, supportive services, and human connection to neighborhoods across Chicago.
"I started at the Pilsen and Humboldt Park stops because of my fluency in Spanish," she said. "I saw that those were areas that you could use me the most."
"From the beginning, I loved interacting with clients. It felt and a I knew it was for me. It just fell into place," Laura said.
Volunteer opportunities have been temporarily suspended at The Night Ministry to protect the health and safety of clients, staff, and volunteers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Laura said she misses her evenings on the Bus and her interactions with the clients and staff.
"I've made so many connections with the clients at my stops. I miss helping them out and being able to talk and interact with the clients," she said. "I also miss The Night Ministry staff. They are tremendous."
In the meantime, Laura said she is looking forward to getting back on the Bus, while also wondering about how the individuals with whom she has built relationships are doing.
"I'm always thinking of the clients and wondering and hoping they are safe,"" she said. "Normally, if I don't see a regular at the Bus or haven't seen them for a few days, I'll ask around to see if they are okay. And then, suddenly, even after maybe a month, I'll see them again. It is always a relief to see a client I hadn't seen in a while because now I know they are safe and doing well."