Making a difference
Social supports team helps patient in financial crisis
In June of 2023, Jair Alvarez, Social Worker, met *Miguel, a polite, quiet gentleman who had worked hard and hardly ever asked for help. Due to a work accident injury, Miguel was unable to work, was not receiving worker’s compensation and as a result, had drained his savings account trying to afford his basic needs.
“Miguel is around 60 years old and only speaks Spanish,” said Alvarez. “He also has diabetes and gets dialysis three times a week. With his financial situation and his inability to work, he was in a state of crisis.”
Alvarez immediately started to help Miguel find and apply for resources to help Miguel afford his basic needs. After starting the social security disability application, Alvarez helped Miguel apply for SNAP and the Douglas County General Assistance program.
“We as a social supports team are essentially a bridge for these programs,” said Alvarez. “He was able to get his rent covered for two months, which was a big relief considering he was essentially out of money and unable to work.”
In addition to these programs, Alvarez provided Miguel with a bus pass for transportation, donated by Mary Our Queen church, a hygiene pack and connected Miguel to local food pantries.
During the application process, Alvarez learned Miguel did not know how to navigate his mobile banking app, so Alvarez walked him through the steps to access important account information.
“People don’t think about it, but knowing how to work those applications and websites is very important, because many assistance programs require bank statements and income verification,” said Alvarez.
Eventually Miguel was approved for social security disability. He now receives enough funds to cover his rent and utilities, and is still utilizing SNAP and local food pantries for food access.
“He mentioned to me that he had to cancel his TV plan when his bank accounts got really low, and that he was bored at home and really appreciated talking to our team and having conversations with us,” said Alvarez. “He spent most of his life not asking for help, so it is a point of vulnerability for him. He is truly so humble and appreciates the small things.”
Alvarez meets with Miguel regularly and is currently helping Miguel identify ways he can improve his life. Right now, they are focusing on how Miguel can be self-sufficient and find connections with others in the community.
“I went into social work because I want to return the favor and the acts of kindness my family received,” said Alvarez. “My mom is a Salvadoran immigrant and a single mother to five children, so I was very familiar with social work at school and community agencies throughout my childhood.”
Alvarez joined OneWorld earlier this year after completing his practicum at the Learning Community Center of South Omaha and graduating with his social work degree.
“Working with a Miguel is a great example of the value of social supports and the importance of advocating for people,” said Alvarez. “Miguel started in a place of crisis, and is now able to focus on saving to visit his family in California and improving his health. Our team is here to help every patient no matter their situation or barriers they face, and that makes all the difference.”
*Name has been changed to protect the patient’s privacy.