Centro Romero: Building bridges, creando una comunidad

This story was originally written for Bilingual Reporting under the instruction of Professor Mei-Ling Hopgood at Northwestern University. 

By Daisy Villegas & Isabella Soto



We believe that a person has a right to an education. At Centro Romero, education is not only a given, it is the reason for its existence. Every year, thousands of immigrants and refugees enter its doors to learn English, get a basic adult education, or get their citizenship.

Vienen de todos tipos de vidas, de todos lugares que puedes imaginar. Vienen a Centro Romero para buscar una educación que le dará mejores trabajos y el respeto de la comunidad de habla inglesa en Chicago. Están motivados por expectaciones, esperanzas, y sueños.

Some come to the center to learn English to go to college. Others come to communicate better with their children.

Cualquiera razón, llegan a Centro Romero con la esperanza de un día hablar el idioma que ayudará sus oportunidades de éxito.



José García sits quietly in a fluorescent lit room, his eyes carefully switching between photographs and words. On his desk is a handout on mood and emotions, and the class works to describe the details in a series of photographs. One photo boasts an advertisement for a perfume, showing a fair-skinned model wearing a gold dress. Another depicts a yellow M&M standing in front of a golden Christmas tree, and the final shows a woman with her two children huddled behind her shoulders. García fiddles with a pencil, nimbly twiddling it between his fingers.

In the ESL classroom of Centro Romero, the walls host maps of Illinois and the United States as well as posters outlining how a bill becomes a law and the branches of government. The rickety wooden desks fill the room with creaky noise as the students shift in their chairs and stumble over words as they struggle with the English language. They may not be new to the classroom or Chicago, but they are new to the language that they hope will get them higher paying jobs and help create a pathway to citizenship.


Centro Romero has long been a source of success for immigrant and refugee families on Chicago’s Northside. Since 1984, the community-based organization has helped many immigrants access English as a Second Language (ESL), General Educational Development (GED), Adult Basic Education (ABE), and citizenship courses. Their mission, promoted on their website, is to “bridge a disenfranchised community of immigrants and refugees into mainstream American society as well as improving their opportunity for upward social mobility.” Recently, however, the services that Centro Romero offers have dwindled and resources for immigrants and refugees are at risk of being cut off.

Centro Romero was named after Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero, who was assassinated at the height of El Salvador’s Civil War, and reflects Romero’s commitment to giving a voice to the voiceless. Centro Romero offers education, advocacy, leadership, and legal service to promote the growth of immigrants and refugees in the community. The center helps about 15,000 people per year according to Dena Giacommetti, the adult education program director. For this reason, Centro Romero never denies people access to their courses.

The community center faces pressure to stay open without state money due to the recent Illinois budget crisis, and as a result Centro Romero has had to deal with layoffs, furloughs and uncertainty about its future. In the last year, Centro Romero has lost 17 teachers but has been able to re-hire the majority of them. Family literacy classes are no longer offered and the center faces an influx of newcomers from other centers that have already closed down. Centro Romero was able to stay open by greatly reducing their services and with the help of numerous volunteers.

“It’s been a disaster. Centro Romero almost shut down last year because of budget cuts. It’s a gift that we’re still here,” said Debbie Kaputska, an adult basic education teacher.

Carlos Cortez, a student at Centro Romero

For students like García, the closing of the center would devastate their chances of learning English or completing their GED or citizenship classes. The closing also poses a danger to other immigrants who may not have elsewhere to go to seek legal counseling services. For many, Centro Romero is the first place immigrants and refugees visit for help, making it an indispensable resource to the community.


“Centro Romero is important to me because here I can learn to interact with people from different countries and at the same time I make many friends,” said García. “It’s important because I can also help many people who truly need help.”

According to the Fiscal Policy Center at Voices for Illinois Kids, due to the lack of state funding going to immigrant services, “roughly 102,000 immigrants are no longer receiving services through the New Americans Initiative and the Immigrant Family Resource program”. These two programs provided services such as ESL classes and assistance with naturalization and citizenship processes — resources that Centro Romero offers and have been affected due to the budget cut.

“If it weren’t for fundraisers and community outreach events, the center might not be standing today. We fundraised like crazy,” according to Kaputska.

When adult education programs get the majority of their money from the state, the lack of a state budget is “not good news” for Katie Maranzana, the transitions coordinator at the center. Despite struggling and reducing its services, some centers were not as fortunate as Centro Romero. The Albany Park Community Center was forced to sell its building and shut down classes as a result of the budget cuts. According to Maranzana, this was the largest shutdown of any center to date.

Jose García, a student at Centro Romero 

García, a recently naturalized US citizen and an immigrant from the Mexican town of Morelos, is shy and fidgety, his eyes low and his voice quiet as he talks about his life. He has lived in Chicago with his father and two younger sisters since 2011, has a brother who lives in Glenview, and his mother and another brother remain in Morelos. He found out about Centro Romero through his father, who has been living in the United States for over 20 years and who also learned English and became a citizen through Centro Romero’s classes.

“I come here every night so that I can some day be really good at English and go back to college and become an engineer,” said García. “My father learned English here and I will too.”

Many students must balance the realities of immigrant life with their classes at Centro Romero, often coming to class after a long day of working or tending to family. Whether it is to study English in order to get their GED, take citizenship classes, be qualified for a job, or to simply communicate better with family in the United States, each student at Centro Romero has their own story behind their desire to learn English. Despite feeling comfortable speaking Spanish in his home and at his job, a car wash in Glenview,  García realizes the barriers that not speaking English creates.

“If you want a better job, you have to learn English and be a citizen,” said García.

Willaim Mensauh portrait.jpg
William Mensauh, a student at Centro Romero

Difficulties aside, Centro Romero’s role in the community remains as important as ever, especially in the aftermath of the continued budget crisis and the 2016 presidential election. Maranzana said that since the election, applications to volunteer have surged. The center, usually receiving around one or two applications per week, has received over 20 applications for volunteers in the weeks following Nov. 8. Maranzana also shared that when asked why they would like to volunteer at the center, one applicant simply wrote “to put it simply, the election and Donald Trump.”

Like Garcia, many students look to Centro Romero as a place where their hopes of speaking English will become reality. But this reality is not at all what it may seem to be. Staff at Centro Romero have expressed concern about the future of the center.

For Joseph Martens, a resource developer at the center, the future of Centro Romero lies in the hands of Donald Trump.

“We’re not sure what will happen now that Trump is in office,” said Martens. “Because he’s still the president-elect, nothing has happened. This may not be the case come January. We’re going to have to wait and see.”



José García está sentado callado en un cuarto con luces fluorescentes, sus ojos cuidadosamente alternando entre fotos y palabras. En su escritorio esta un papel sobre emociones y humores, la clase trabaja para describir los detalles en una serie de fotos. Una foto muestra un anuncio para un perfume con una mujer de piel clara con un vestido dorado. Otra ilustra un chocolate M&M amarillo parado en frente de un árbol de Navidad dorado, y la foto final enseña una mujer con sus dos hijos encorvados atrás de ella. García está jugueteando con un lápiz, pasándolo por sus dedos ágilmente.

En el salón de la clase en Centro Romero, las paredes muestran mapas de Illinois y los Estados Unidos y también carteles delineando cómo las propuestas de ley se convierten en leyes y las ramas del gobierno. Los escritorios ruidosos de madera llenan el cuarto con sonido porque los estudiantes se mueven en sus asientos, tropezando sobre palabras en sus esfuerzos para adquirir el ingles. Aunque no son nuevos al salón o a Chicago, son nuevos al idioma que les trae tanta esperanza de mejores trabajos y los ayuda a crear un camino a la ciudadanía.


Centro Romero ha sido una fuente de éxitos para familias inmigrantes y refugiadas en el norte de Chicago. Desde 1984, la organización comunitaria ha ayudado a muchos inmigrantes a acceder a clases de Inglés Como Segunda Lengua, General Educational Development (GED), Adult Basic Education (ABE), y clases de ciudadanía. La misión del centro, promocionada en su sitio web, es “conectar una comunidad de inmigrantes y refugiados privados de sus derechos a la sociedad popular americana y también mejorar sus oportunidades para movilidad social ascendente”. Pero recientemente, los recursos y servicios que Centro Romero ofrece han disminuido por el estancamiento del presupuesto estatal de Illinois.

Centro Romero lleva el nombre del Arzobispo Oscar Arnulfo Romero, quien fue asesinado durante la guerra civil de El Salvador, y refleja el compromiso que tenía Romero para darle una voz a los que no la tienen. Centro Romero ofrece educación, abogacía, liderazgo, y servicios legales para promover el crecimiento de inmigrantes y refugiados en la comunidad. El centro ayuda a casi 15.000 personas cada año, según Dena Giacommetti, la directora del programa de educación adulta. Por esta razón, Centro Romero nunca niega el acceso a sus cursos a nadie.

El centro comunitario está obligado a mantenerse abierto sin dinero estatal debido a la crisis presupuestaria de Illinois, y como consecuencia, Centro Romero ha recurrido a despidos, permisos, e incertidumbre acerca de su futuro. En el año pasado, Centro Romero perdió 17 maestros, pero han podido reemplear a la mayoría de ellos. Ya no se ofrecen clases de alfabetización familiar y el centro se encuentra con una afluencia de nuevos estudiantes de otros centros que han cerrado. Centro Romero pudo mantenerse abierto porque sumamente  redujeron sus servicios y por la ayuda de los voluntarios.

“Ha sido un desastre. Centro Romero casi cerró el año pasado por los cortes al presupuesto estatal. Es un regalo que todavía estamos aquí”, dijo Debbie Kaputska, una maestra de educación básica adulta.

Carlos Cortez, un estudiante en Centro Romero

Para estudiantes como García, el cierre del centro devastaría sus oportunidades de aprender inglés o terminar sus clases de GED o ciudadanía. El cierre también sería terrible para los inmigrantes que no pueden ir a ningún otro lado para conseguir servicios legales. Para muchos, Centro Romero es el primer lugar que los inmigrantes y refugiados visitan para pedir ayuda. Los servicios que Centro Romero ofrece son indispensables para la comunidad.

“Centro Romero es importante para mí por qué aquí puedo aprender a interactuar con personas de diferentes países y a la vez hacer muchos amigos”, dijo García.  “Es importante porque también puedo ayudar a muchas personas que en verdad necesitan ayuda.”

Según el Fiscal Policy Center at Voices for Illinois Kids, debido a la ausencia de fondos estatales que lleguen a los servicios de inmigrantes, “casi 102.000 inmigrantes ya no están recibiendo servicios del New Americans Initiative y el programa de Immigrant Family Resource”. Estos dos programas proporcionaron servicios como clases de ESL y asistencia en los procesos de naturalización y ciudadanía — recursos que Centro Romero ofrece y que se han visto afectados por los recortes.

“Si no fuera por la recaudación de fondos y eventos de participación comunitaria, el centro a lo mejor no estaría aquí hoy. Recaudamos fondos como locos”, según Kaputska.

Cuando los programas de educación para adultos reciben la mayoría de sus fondos del estado, la falta de un presupuesto del estado “no es buena noticia” dijo Katie Maranzana, la coordinadora de transiciones en Centro Romero. A pesar de sus luchas, otros centros como Centro Romero no fueron tan afortunados. El Albany Park Community Center tuvo que vender uno de sus edificios y parar las clases por los recortes presupuestarios. Según Maranzana, esto ha sido el cierre de un centro más grande en la historia.

Jose García, un estudiante en Centro Romero

García, un ciudadano recientemente naturalizado y un inmigrante del pueblo mexicano de Morelos, es tímido y azogado, sus ojos miran al piso y su voz es baja mientras habla sobre su vida. Ha vivido en Chicago con su padre y sus hermanas menores desde 2011. Tiene un hermano que vive en Glenview, pero su madre y otro hermano están todavía en Morelos. Se enteró de Centro Romero por su padre, quien ha vivido en los Estados Unidos por más de 20 años y quien también aprendió inglés y se hizo ciudadano con la ayuda de las clases del centro.

“Vengo cada noche para algún día saber el inglés bien y para regresar a un colegio y ser un ingeniero”, dijo García. “Mi padre aprendió inglés aquí y yo también lo haré.”

Muchos estudiantes tienen que manejar las realidades de sus vidas inmigrantes con sus clases en Centro Romero, muchas veces llegando tarde después de un día largo en el trabajo o cuidando familia. Si se trata de aprender inglés para obtener el GED, tomar clases de ciudadanía, ser calificados para un trabajo, o comunicarse mejor con la familia en los Estados Unidos, cada estudiante tiene una historia al fondo de sus deseos de aprender inglés. A pesar de sentirse cómodo hablando el español en su casa y en su trabajo en un lavado de autos en Glenview, García entiende que no es suficiente hablar solo el español.

“Si quieres un trabajo mejor, tienes que aprender inglés y ser ciudadano”, dijo García.

Willaim Mensauh portrait.jpg
William Mensauh, un estudiante en Centro Romero

A pesar de las dificultades a las que Centro Romero se ha enfrentado, su papel en la comunidad es más importante que nunca, especialmente después de la crisis presupuestaria y las elecciones presidenciales de 2016. Maranzana dijo que desde las elecciones, el número de voluntarios ha subido. El centro normalmente recibe una o dos solicitudes para ser voluntario cada semana. Pero en las semanas después del 8 de noviembre, el centro ha recibido 20 aplicaciones. Maranzana compartió que cuando les preguntaron a los solicitantes por qué quieren ser voluntarios, un solicitante dijo:  “en breve, por las elecciones y Donald Trump”.

Como García, muchos estudiantes consideran Centro Romero un lugar adonde sus esperanzas de hablar inglés se pueden realizar. Pero esta realidad no es como aparece. Empleados de Centro Romero han expresado preocupación acerca del futuro del centro.

Para Joseph Martens, el coordinador de recursos del centro, el futuro de Centro Romero está en las manos de Donald Trump.

“No estamos seguros que va pasar ahora que Trump está en el poder”, dijo Martens. “Porque todavía es el presidente electo, nada ha pasado. Esto a lo mejor no será el caso en enero. Tendremos que esperar y ver”.



Willard Residential College: A Tradition at Risk

Willardites c. 1970

Northwestern University, a campus settled right along Lake Michigan in the quiet suburb of Evanston, Illinois, has a long history of valuing tradition, to the point that student identity and success is driven more by religious dedication to these traditions than by academics. One shouldn’t walk through “The Arch” during finals week. One has to guard “The Rock”, nestled in between Harris and University Hall, on campus for 24 hours before getting the honor of painting it. Northwestern’s nature is embedded in these quirky, unspoken rules that define the campus’ culture, but “The Rock” and “The Arch” are not the only thing contributing to the legacy of traditions of the school.

 “The Rock” and “The Arch”

Hidden on the Southwestern-most tip of campus, Willard Residential College is home to possibly the most eclectic mix of people on campus. From its celebrity alumni such as Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Stephen Colbert to beloved events such as the Woo-Shep Olympics, an annual showdown against Willard’s rival residential college, Sheppard, Willard allows for people of all different majors and backgrounds to come together and continue to celebrate the customs that help embed Willard’s identity within the Northwestern community.

A Portait of Willard in the Northwestern University Archives

Willard Residential College is named after the formidable Frances Willard, Northwestern University’s first Dean of Women. The life of Frances Willard in some strange way has very much set the tone for the residential college’s unique community and its culture of “social innovation”. Willard was a key player for temperance, which most people know led to prohibition but was instrumental to early women’s rights. Her involvement with the Women’s Christian Temperance Union was lovingly mocked by Willardites through parties involving heavy drinking on the anniversary of her death (they were finally stopped in 2002). Willard’s quirky residents find a great deal of joy in their namesake, often cracking jokes about the ghost of Frances Willard or gathering in the Common Room to take selfies with her portrait.

Willardites on the roof of Willard Hall c. 1970

However, Willard’s playful and creative nature faces a great opponent: Northwestern’s Housing Master Plan. Willard will be under renovation for the 2016–2017 school year and the residential college will be operating out of 1835 Hinman, a residential hall. While it may be “Willard East” for the following school year, many residents worry that the distinctive character that the building and Willardites hold together will be lost.

The physical building of Willard holds a great deal of tradition. Each room is constructed differently, some with broad, slanted walls that make one wonder what posters have hung there in the past. Old lounges that have been repurposed into triples are found on each floor, some given funny names such as “Paradise”. The common spaces have names that only a Willardite could come up with: the TivLounge (TV Lounge), the Rat Trap (the basement), the Clounge (computer lounge), to name a few. From floor to floor, each part of the Willard building exudes the quintessential quirk and charisma that its residents do.

Yoko Kohmoto, Willard’s current president, believes that while Willard’s traditions and culture will be moving to Hinman for a year, the building is inextricably tied to its identity and customs.

“A lot of the furniture and things are moving over to Hinman and the new executive board will handle the continuing of the events, but I think things will be different,” Kohmoto said. “It’s a unique situation to be living in because all the lounges have weird names… and that becomes a part of our language which shapes the community into something that is special on campus.”

Hale McSharry, who lived in Willard in his freshman and sophomore year, discussed the excitement that came with living in a dorm rich with history.

“My sophomore year I lived down the hall from where Stephen Colbert lived, and someone once told me that the fifth floor was a tuberculosis quarantine,” McSharry said. He also echoed concerns about how the buildings structural differences would change the way Willard residents would interact with each other in 1835 Hinman.

“Hinman is a weird building. I had friends who lived in Hinman and because they had the suite-style living, and the way they talked about the people that they lived with was much different,” McSharry said. “I miss the energy that just comes from so many people living on top of each other.”

The direct attachment to Willard as a building and as a community extends well beyond graduation, and Willard alums fondly recall their time spent in the Residential College. Jack Hynes, Northwestern ’76, commuted from his home in Chicago’s northern suburbs his first year, then lived in Willard for his sophomore and junior years of college. To him, Willard has always been a coveted place to live that cultivates close relationships. 

Faculty Chair Gary Saul Morson and Willard resident Drew Johnson enjoy a conversation together in the Common Room, accompanied by Frances Willard’s portrait.

“There was a housing shortage at the time and I got the last room in Willard. They converted a lounge into a quad, so I lived with three other men,” Hynes said.

Hynes also discussed Willard’s spontaneous nature and college antics. When retelling some of his and his roommates stories, Hynes said “it was because we had become such great friends the year before that we had all come back… Willard was a really nice place to live, and there was a lot of social activity. It had just become a residential college and pretty much every week, there was some type of event going on.”

Willard continues to be a place where diverse experiences and perspectives converge and particularly strong friendships, and even some student groups, are forged. For instance, Dial Up, a bi-weekly radio show that broadcasts on WNUR, Northwestern’s student-run radio station, was the result of a tight knit community of friends who all met Willard.

Tucker Johnson is a student currently living in Willard. His father and his uncle both lived in the dorm and encouraged Johnson to do the same when housing selection came around. Tucker lives on the third floor in room 336, which has unofficially been dubbed “The Chateau,” complete with a sign that has been passed down for several years.

Johnson, however, has decided he will be holding onto the sign throughout Willard’s remodeling because “Willard won’t be Willard next year.” Many students share this concern and claim that with its relocation, Willard will be fundamentally different. After an informal survey put out by the executive board, Kohmoto says that only about 15 to 20 sophomores will be returning to “Willard East”, which pales in comparison to the 51 students who returned to live in Willard for the 2015–16 school year. With less than ten percent of students returning to live in “Willard East,” it’s natural to question the amount to which Willard’s traditions will continue.

Some people, however, believe that the culture of Willard will continue to thrive, so long as Willardites, no matter their number, continue to uphold its traditions. Gary Saul Morson is a Professor of Russian Literature and has been the Faculty Chair of Willard Residential College for 13 years. With the move to Hinman, Morson has insisted on keeping up the little things that make Willard special, such as moving the posters that hang in Willard as well as the staff of Fran’s Cafe, an immensely popular late night dining option in Willard’s dining hall.

“The staff makes a real difference and people underestimate that for setting a tone and making a difference and making it feel like home,” Morson said.

Alex Millinazo, Willard’s secretary, also believes that though the move might be a little rough, Willard’s rich culture and history will be maintained.

“There might be a few things that unfortunately might get lost in translation, but all of the major things that I think keep Willard what it is will be held up consistently,” Millinazo said. 

Current Exterior of Willard Residential College (via northwestern.edu)

The Modern Lovers: Technology and its Role in Romantic Relationships

Swipe left. Swipe left. Swipe left. Swipe right. The sudden flick of the thumb across the screen of his iPhone 6 is how Colin Clayton, a 19-year-old student at Northwestern University from Edwardsville, Illinois, navigates through the dating app Tinder in order to find a potential match. A swipe left means a pass, while a swipe right indicates interest. In these simple motions, a relationship is born.

“I really like Tinder because I meet people who are outside Northwestern. You meet different people that you wouldn’t normally meet,” said Clayton. “Especially as a gay person, the dating scene is very digital. It’s harder to meet people just in public out and about.”

Young Americans are more connected than ever. According to Pew Research, 45 percent of Internet users ages 18-29 in serious relationships say the Internet has had a serious impact on their relationship and 11 percent of American adults have used online dating sites or mobile dating apps.

Pew Stats

“I think there’s been the capacity to meet people online for a long time, but there’s been a social stigma surrounding it,” said Karen North, a professor of digital social media at the University of Southern California in a phone call. “The reality behind what’s really happening is that socializing with people via social media has very recently become acceptable enough for people.”

For many in relationships – particularly long-distance relationships – technology is often what allows couples to remain connected while apart. Nicole Paykert, a 23-year-old legal secretary from East Meadow, New York, has been in a long-distance relationship with her boyfriend, David, who lives in Liverpool, England, for almost three years. The couple met on the blogging platform Tumblr and stay connected through WhatsApp, Skype, Xbox Live and social media.

“There are days when I come home from work stressed or really excited about something and I wish I could come home to David,” Paykert said in a phone call. “I call him when I get out of work and that sometimes helps, but it’s not the same as when we’re together and I can just plop down on the couch and just be with him. And if either of us isn’t answering or the app isn’t working or our phone’s crash, then we’re cut off.”

An informal survey regarding technology and relationships created by this writer was conducted with 250 anonymous individuals ages 18 to 29 years old. Fifty-two percent of survey respondents said they would use a dating app to find a future partner.

“I think for students it [online dating] is seen as a little bit weird and stigmatized,” said Jeremy Birnholtz, a communication studies professor at Northwestern University. “You have endless social opportunities to interact face-to-face with people your own age, and the fact you would choose not to do that and instead meet people online is a little bit weird. But once you get out into the real world, you’re not surrounded by people who are just like you anymore.”

However, one app – Tinder – has potentially cracked the code of getting the college-aged demographic to use dating and matchmaking services, exploding in popularity since its start in 2012 and garnering over one billion “swipes” per day. In the same informal survey, almost 40 percent of respondents stated that they have used Tinder, which gives significant reason to believe that the stigma surrounding younger individuals using dating apps and websites is slowly diminishing.

“Tinder may be the breakthrough though because it’s simple and location based,” said North. “With Tinder, you also don’t have to put up a profile. You just put up a picture and you don’t have to put up a lot of information.”

Tinder Stats
SOURCE: Isabella Soto / Northwestern University

Some young adults, however, are choosing to meet their partners the old-fashioned way:  in person. Claudia Harmata, 19, is a Northwestern University student from Chicago who met Connor, her boyfriend, on the second day of their freshman orientation.

“I was with a friend and she introduced us, and then a few days later we all met up again and as we talked more, we found out we lived ten minutes from each other,” said Harmata.

They then started talking frequently on Snapchat, the instant photo-messaging app, since signal problems caused issues between the two when texting.

“Ever since we started dating, we’ve started talking a lot less on technology,” said Harmata. “We see each other in our dorm every day, and mostly we’ll send each other texts to coordinate when to meet up.”

Constant connectivity, however, has enabled individuals to be hyper-aware of what’s going on, when it’s happening and who’s involved, especially in the aftermath of failed relationships. Oscar Peinado*, a 21-year-old junior at the University of Pennsylvania from McAllen, Texas, was in a relationship with another university student for seven months before it ended and cites that Facebook has made it harder to cut ties with his ex.

“With respect to my ex, who I think sees basically everything I post and comment on because she is very active in social media and follows my closest friends, I try to maintain the image of myself that I had while together so that I don’t appear as though I’ve lost my s–t,” said Peinado. “My Facebook usage has been much more active, and I’ve been more open about what’s going on in my personal life and have shared recent successes knowing that my ex will see them.”

As the world becomes more connected and technology continues to evolve and find spaces in even our most intimate relationships, more individuals are now able to find truly compatible partners and create a love that extends beyond the software it was founded upon.

“People always ask why I would be in a long distance relationship if it was so tough,” said Paykert. “I’d rather be in a long distance relationship with him, where we get each other perfectly and we really love each other than settle for anything less with someone close by. What we have is worth it.”

*Name has been changed