OUR STORIES / Community

Get to know your neighbors

Meet Luiz Bertolo, one of EFAA’s Basic Needs Case Managers. After working around the globe for years with Global Works, Luiz was compelled to learn more about the issues facing people in his own community. That’s how he found EFAA.

“I think it’s easier for a lot of people to see poverty and struggle in other countries, but right here at home people face similar hardships, like family homelessness and food insecurity,” says Luiz. “In a place as beautiful as Boulder it can be easy to not see how hard things are for those living in poverty, but this is reality for a lot of our neighbors. Locally poverty is not something fringe.”

Luiz values understanding what is going on in his own backyard and being able to provide some relief to struggling families who need it.
“What people are dealing with is difficult,” says Luiz. “They are so resilient and I wonder if I would have the same resilience if I faced their challenges. They don’t have the things other people here do, but they still find joy in the little things, like their family and their children. It’s a humbling opportunity to be able to talk to them one on one and get to know their children. I feel more grounded and connected to my community this way.

I think that to be compassionate, you have to know what is going on and be awake. That’s why I like this job. I try to make my job fun and banter with clients. I don’t want it to be a heavy setting just because what they are dealing with is heavy. I want to interact with them as individuals, not just someone who needs something.”

Through his work, Luiz sees first-hand the realities that can drive a family to become homeless and struggle with poverty. Things like domestic violence, mental health issues, natural disasters, or the combination of very low wages and rising housing costs contribute to family crisis. His goal is to give families hope and provide them with the resources they need to achieve their goals.

“The families we work with are building their futures, and their children’s futures,” says Luiz. “We provide a little help, but they are the ones doing the work.”

Luiz, who considers himself a “solutionary,” gives a lot to his job, but also learns a lot, too. “How can we know about the world if we don’t know about the people in our own town?”