The basics: Marivel Flores, 22, is a senior criminology student at Fresno State with an emphasis in victimology, which explores domestic violence, rape counseling programs and other victim-related programs at the local, state or federal level.
What she does: Flores works 24 hours a week at Centro La Familia, a nonprofit that provides education, training and social services for low-income people in Fresno. She works in the Victim Services Department, where she helps victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking and other serious crimes with applications for restraining orders, court accompaniment and immigration petitions for humanitarian relief.
Why she does it: Flores started interning for Centro La Familia last September to fulfill a 120-hour requirement for her bachelor’s degree. She finished a month later and asked to continue as a volunteer.
The turning point: “I want to work with victims. My internship helped me a lot to know that this is what I want to do. I want to be able to help people in my community, especially work with minorities ... Discrimination can still be a big issue in any community, not just Fresno. (I want to) be a change in their life.”
Details, details: Flores started out translating documents, such as birth certificates and letters of support. Over time, she learned how to put together immigration petitions, such as U visas for crime victims. “That was the hardest part, to sit with a client and see them cry. You can’t obviously cry with them. For me that was the most difficult part, to sit there and listen and put it in the story. Some of the victims go through a lot of things, and it makes you value what you have.”
What others say: “When her hours were done, she asked if she could continue to come in and provide her assistance, which we were in dire need of,” said Mario Gonzalez, Victim Services Department manager. “I obviously said yes. Since then, she’s been in every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, without fail, 8:30 to 5. It’s rare when you see students, especially students in their senior year who meet all the requirements to graduate, who go beyond.”
How you can help: Anyone wishing to donate to Centro La Familia can call (559) 237-2961 or do so online at www.centrola-familia.org. Anyone interested in volunteering can email Gonzalez: firstname.lastname@example.org.
— Andrea Castillo