Helping us celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month is a member of our Pine Street Inn team. Will, a Boston native, has family ties to both Puerto Rico and Spain. Growing up, Will lived in tight-knit communities in Dorchester and the South End that were a melting pot of people from Puerto Rico, Cape Verde and more.
“There was a real need in my community to help people translate between English to Spanish,” Will says. “When I was 11 years old, my mother asked me to translate for a neighbor. I soon started helping people by translating immigration applications and other documents. Even at a young age, I knew that I liked helping people.”
Following high school, Will’s first job was in legal services, which allowed him to continue helping others through translation and advocacy work. “A lot of people hide their vulnerabilities for fear of having them used against you. I think that’s especially true in immigrant communities,” Will says. “There’s a saying in Spanish, ‘por afuera flores y adeñtro llores.’ Basically, this means that one’s outside may present as beautiful, while inside, a person is crying.”
Will’s commitment to helping others led him to a career in the affordable housing market, where he worked to keep people in their homes. “I found out about Pine Street through my work there,” Will says. “I joined Pine Street Inn in 2017. While I’ve held a couple of positions here, I’m currently a compliance specialist. In this role, I help people navigate their benefits and complete paperwork so they can secure housing and thrive. When someone I’ve been working with tells me they’re OK, and they really mean it, that’s the most rewarding part of my job.”
“I try to create a sense of family and build community throughout Pine Street,” Will says. “I grew up in a community where people came from many different countries. I have a huge empathy for the population we work with and an understanding of the struggles so many people face.”
Will concludes, “It’s a part of my culture to help your fellow humans. You never know when you’re the one who might need a hand.”