But who and what is Taller de José, aside from where Running Buddy works?
Well, I went to their 5th annual Builder’s Day celebration on Sunday, so I’ve been especially reminded of all the needed and beautiful work that they do.
Who is Taller?
Taller was founded by Sr. Kathy Brazda, a Sister of St. Joseph who is still the Executive Director, along with Fr. Bob Casey, the Board President, and another sister, Sr. Carol Crepeau. Since the founding, the full-time staff has been very small, including Sr. Kathy, one Amate volunteer a year, and the Amate House volunteers that then got hired as staff in addition to a office manager. The way they are able to do so much work is that they have several committed volunteers that in “retirement” serve as compañeras for several days a week, in addition to social work and seminary interns that also are compañeras.
What does Taller do?
The founders wished to establish a ministry which would meet the most pressing needs of the residents of the Little Village neighborhood of Chicago, (that’s where Fr. Bob was serving at the time). So they actually asked the community what those needs were. They embodied the Buechner definition of vocation:
Vocation is where your deep gladness meets the world deep need.
They melded the deep gladness of the sisters, that is, their congregation’s charism of witnessing to the unifying love of God, and the community’s deep need of connecting to the available services. Their mission was formed: to connect services to people and people to services in a ministry of accompaniment.
Taller’s compañeras accompany clients to court, to the doctor’s office, to government agencies. They help with paperwork and with translation, both oral and written.
Where does Taller serve?
Taller is in the Little Village neighborhood of Chicago. It is a predominantly Mexican(-American) neighborhood with a large Spanish-speaking population. Thus, a large part of Taller’s client base is grateful for not only the accompaniment of the compañeras, but also the interpretation they can provide when a fluent grasp of the language is often a barrier to appropriate access not only to resources, but to justice in court or medical advice from a doctor.
But Taller’s impact extends beyond Little Village as well. Clients come from over 41 different zip codes in Chicago and over 36 suburbs, and Taller de José partners with over 140 partner agencies to provide resources for its clients.
Ok, this question is kind of unnecessary. But, in fitting with the theme…. NOW? of course! They opened their doors in 2008 after 2-3 years of dreaming and planning. This year has included a series of events to celebrate their 5 years of service to the city of Chicago.
Why does Taller do what they do?
Because they heard of a need and have sought to fill it. Because we all need someone to accompany us through our challenges, through our fear, through our barriers to health and success. Because language should not be a reason to be denied services and justice. Because the love of God compels them. Because they work so that all may be one.
Taller de José (Pronounced, “Thai- yair,” remember, no gringo “Tall-er”) is Spanish for Joseph’s Workshop. Their annual dinner and fundraiser is called Builder’s Day. It took me three years to figure out it’s called Builder’s Day in honor of the Joseph theme (St. Joseph, Jesus’ earthly adopted dad so to speak, was a carpenter). I’m a little slow on the uptake!
Thanks for reading about this great organization that I’m running for! I’m looking for 13 people to financially support them through my running of this Half Marathon, one donation in honor of each mile. I’ve had four people join me on this journey already. Will you be the next one?