In December 2016, Alejandro Rodriguez walked into the Out Boulder County's Longmont office and offered to be of service. The day we met, he was an undocumented Latino gay man who had just moved to the city, and he "wanted to be useful in his new hometown". He shared his remarkable story of moving to Dallas at 19 to join his mother, how he spoke no English, waited tables, earned a degree from University of North Texas, and then moved to Longmont after graduation to start his own company. He shared his plans for his food truck and his dream to become a legal permanent resident.
In the year since, Alejandro has become a beloved citizen of our community, generously offered his time, personal story and hospitality to everyone he has encountered. When we first met, I asked how we could support his path to legalization and offered to connect him to someone in a similar situation. He is now taking on that role as a mentor and educator for our community. Today, I asked him with all he has given of himself to our organization, what have we had to offer him. What he most appreciated was having a safe place to show up as his whole self and have someone willing to listen. He recalled that during his volunteer training the biggest focus was on learning to be present for the people who walk into our office and that was the gift that he had received.