In August of 2012, I ran an ad for our Tax Class. A young Hispanic woman (I’ll call her Lilith) answered the ad. She went through the tax class with many other people, and I noticed that, although English wasn’t her first language and she struggled, she was very hard-working and tenacious.

One day Lilith came to me, shortly after the class had ended, and told me she really needed to work right away. She broke down crying, saying her husband had “done something stupid” and rather than be arrested and pay for it, he had run off to Mexico, leaving her and two babies behind. She had no income and was going to be evicted. In the Hispanic community, family is everything and Judith had none here in the states. She was so bereft! I gave her a big hug and assured her everything would be okay, then we talked about what she should do next. She didn’t want to go back to Mexico after she had worked so hard to become a citizen here.

I gave her a job right away as our receptionist until she could get through with her certification test and get her PTIN. Some days she had to bring the babies to work with her because she had no one to care for them. I helped her file her back tax returns for free, then paid for her PTIN. Again, she broke down in tears, saying I had no idea what this meant to her for me to help her.

Lilith became one of our tax preparers for a short while, earning enough money to see her through the roughest part. Then, one day she came into the office looking very sad. She had received a job offer for full-time, year-round, steady work at one of the area packing houses and although she didn’t want to leave us, she had no choice. Again she cried, thanking me for helping her, hugging me and calling me an angel for all I did, although I felt I only did what any human being would do. We were all so happy she had a way to work steadily to take care of herself and the children, and with benefits! And eventually, her parents came in from Mexico to help her.

During this tax season, she came in with her babies to file her return. The babies have become toddlers but felt completely at home in our little office. They must have some memory of being here before when their mother needed a little help. It was so good to see her! And she brought her mother, who had come back to visit from Mexico. Meeting her for the first time, Lilith’s mother grabbed by hand and smiled gently at me, and in her broken English she said, “Thank you for being my daughter’s guardian angel.”