Risks and Rewards: A Conversation Between Coddy & Rafael

By LIFT on February 17, 2013

Categories: First Person Perspective, Our Work, Real Stories


LIFT-LA board member Coddy Johnson talks to Rafael, a Member, about the challenges he’s faced and how he’s overcome them.

Coddy: How did you discover LIFT?

Rafael: I was visiting an L.A. County office across the hall from LIFT. I was there applying for disability after a work accident.

What happened?

I hit my knee on a piece of sharp metal, and a few months later, I slipped on oil that had been spilled on the floor. My back required surgery. My Advocate helped me apply for unemployment Insurance and solve transportation and legal issues.

I am so glad to hear you say that Rafael. LIFT is very intentional about integrating with other social services in Magnolia Place. LIFT stays with you and hopes to be a kind of “primary care physician,” helping navigate the system.

It’s true. Whatever problem you have, LIFT offers a warm welcome. They are cariñosas [kind/loving].

One of the things I appreciate most about LIFT is the emphasis on human connection and the dignity in how LIFT treats members.

They help you regardless of what your problem is. When I have urgent needs, I can ask my Advocate.

LIFT is really committed to that model, and also at the same time to using metrics and data to enable them to help Members as efficiently and effectively as possible. You do your part talking about LIFT in the community, and by keeping your commitment, doing all your paperwork, and reaching your goals.

One of my goals is learning English, and LIFT helps with that, too, along with my other goals like insurance and eventual employment. This is a new chapter in my life, a new opportunity.

In my life, whenever I’ve been in a difficult place, I’ve turned to mentors who’ve taken big risks and emerged with their lives intact. As an immigrant, you took a big risk coming here.

When I first arrived here, I was all alone. An orphan at 49! And a couple took me in. They gave me a job, they bought me a car. They took me to get shoes. They protected me.

We’re all so proud of you, Rafael. When you come to LIFT, you brighten everyone’s spirits. Despite all the difficulties you’ve faced, despite your pain, your spirit remains lively. You’re an inspiration.

LIFT sees me for who I really am. I will never forget that.