Helping support hundreds of young people across Washington state whose futures are suddenly uncertain can be draining, especially when your own family's prospects are unclear, too. Wendy Martinez Hurtado's days are intense; after her service year wrapped up in 2016 she became the Program manager at 21 Progress for the Washington State DACA Program-Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a program started by the Obama administration in June 2012 that allows eligible undocumented youth and young adults who entered the country as minors to receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation and eligibility for a work permit.
As young people in her caseload renew their DACA status or apply for a loan to cover the $495 application and biometrics fee, Wendy's days are filled with one-on-one meetings, conferences, presentations, calls, newsletters, and advocacy. "I have to be fully engaged, accurate, support people in the process of renewing, and take care of myself as someone who is undocumented and lives in a mixed-status household," she says. "I am on the job 24/7 whether I like it or not."
Wendy started her job on the heels of a difficult service year. Nearing burnout, she found inspiration and energy from the colleagues and speakers gathered at the May 2015 Service Leadership Conference and was able to tap into the resilience she needed to finish her last few months. Nearly a year later, the February 2016 debriefing provided a space for her to share her service year journey and process the full truth of her experience.
"The Krista Foundation offered a space where I could be my full self, completely transparent about my experience without being judged," she says. "In conversation, people validated that what I experienced wasn't okay. I felt supported in ways that I hadn't been supported by my own service community."
Knowing that she isn't alone-that a supportive community has her back-matters right now. Recently Wendy has been focusing on helping undocumented K-12 students and students from mixed status households feel safe on campus. "I just met with four students at UW Bothell who are trying to create a sustainable way of training colleagues on campus to be allies to undocumented students," she says.
"I know I can't maintain myself without self-care very long," she says. "The job we are doing is tough and emotionally draining. I continue to be super passionate about doing the work I do, but it's really hard."
Besides support and solidarity, difficult work requires a community that is willing to put their bodies on the line for each other. That's why it was a joy for Wendy to encounter two other Colleagues at a recent rally at the Tacoma Detention Center. "The debriefing last year, the detention center this year-it's great to know that if I want to reach out, I can find support in the Krista community!"