Redlands assists with documents

Raymond Guerrero, 58, returned to Redlands, Calif., after the death of his 23-year-old son, the victim of a gang-related shooting in Texas.

A private man, Guerrero, whose native language is Spanish, had relied on his son to help him with many tasks, such as filling out forms for various services.

It was through the new Salvation Army Redlands Corps Document Assistance Program (D.A.P.) that he was able to complete the necessary documents needed for shelter, utilities, and to transfer his medical records from Texas.

“We’ve never had a program like this before,” says Corps Officer Captain Jack Bowen. “While the corps has always been willing to help with basic forms, the program is growing now that it has a name and specific times. We are now able to help community residents like Mr. Guerrero.”

D.A.P. is open to all English- and non-English-speaking clients needing assistance to complete such documents as a Social Security application, school registration, Department of Motor Vehicles forms or medical applications. The service is limited to general forms and is not available for more complex documents, such as tax returns or legal contracts. It is available Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to noon, at the Redlands Corps Community Center.

All information remains completely confidential between the caseworker and the participant.

Besides corps volunteers, program helpers now include a bilingual woman from the community who volunteers her time twice a week.

When faced with more complicated situations, the corps will make a referral when they can. Recently, a local attorney whom Bowen knows from the Kiwanis Club assisted with a situation involving paternity ­ with his help, an intimidating task was simplified.

The program began after the Redlands city council discussed a need for such a service. The Redlands Corps stepped forward and D.A.P. began in April. It is still in the testing phase. After six months it will be evaluated and if considered a success, it will then be given official program status by DHQ.

“We are always growing and adapting to the needs of the community,” says Bowen, “and we see this as another community service that we are here to provide. The neat thing about the program is that our staff and volunteers, including Social Services Director Mike Delgado, know both sides of the fence. They have completed many of these forms themselves, and know what our clients can expect after they submit their forms.”

Bowen also sees the D.A.P. bringing people into the corps. “Many people come off the street to the D.A.P.; once they’re in the building they receive flyers about other corps programs and an invitation to attend services.

“We hope that services like the Document Assistance Program, as well as other programs we provide to the community, can really help people make better lives for themselves.”

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