By Celine Klosterman
(This is the second in an occasional series on staff and volunteers at the Diocese of Davenport headquarters, also known as the chancery.)
Esmeralda Guerrero’s hands are often full helping people in and outside the Davenport Diocese’s social action office, but she says she still enjoys walking through the chancery’s door each morning.
“It’s a really nice place to work,” says the administrative assistant, 31. “The environment here is different than anywhere else I’ve worked; people here are really welcoming. Everyone has been willing to help me ever since I started here” in July 2007.
Their friendliness is a good thing, too, she laughs, because she’s asked lots of questions. Especially when it came to working on the social action department’s Web site, which she’d at first had “no idea” how to manage. But she dove into a software manual, largely teaching herself. “I actually like working with computers, messing things up…” she jokes.
Though Esmeralda says she likes almost every task she tackles at the chancery, especially taking public inquires, there’s rarely time for everything. Most challenging is when people call seeking financial help. The social action office can’t simply write them a check, she says, so she has to send them elsewhere. “It’s hard when they tell you they’ve already called everyone else.”
Esmeralda does her best, though she knows she can’t solve every problem. But even outside of work, she tries to lend a hand where she can. She often babysits for her five nieces and nephews, all of whom live not far from her Moline, Ill., home. “I’ll take them around and spoil them,” she laughs.
After work she also often visits her parents, Maria and Dionicio Guerrero, in Moline to help them with various tasks and provide company. Her family, including older sister Gricelda Garnica, an immigration counselor for the diocese, and younger siblings Daniel and Maria Guadalupe Guerrero, came to Moline from Mexico in 1991. Daniel now works as a barber in the Quad Cities, and Maria Guadalupe is a field examiner for the National Labor Relations Board in Washington, D.C.
Since coming to the United States, Esmeralda has earned an associate’s degree in financial management, worked for the Boys and Girls Club of the Mississippi Valley, a trucking company and done staff support for Allstate Insurance.
But John Kiley, the diocese’s social action director, is glad Esmeralda’s using her skills at the chancery.
“It is hard for me to imagine how we could be half as effective as we are without Esmeralda,” he says. “Her calm approach to helping us to organize multiple priorities and deadlines is amazing. She has learned so much about the social justice movement and has a real heart and head for this type of work!”