Despite her long-term general awareness of the work of Heartland Alliance’s Marjorie Kovler Center, it was not until Holly Birnbaum read a Chicago Tribune article by a volunteer interpreter that she realized, “I could do that!” This revelation led to a relationship with Holly serving as a French language interpreter for a Kovler participant and a volunteer psychotherapist in 2007. Since that time, she has accompanied the participant through the process of healing, of winning asylum, and the discovery of a disappeared spouse. Even though the participant’s English has improved to the point where she no longer needs an interpreter during therapy, the bond between the two continues, as Holly now meets with her regularly to coach her in her job search.
Holly describes how much she has learned about the amazing resiliency of torture survivors and the personal impact she feels from her soulful connections with Kovler participants. She served on the Advisory Council, assisted with annual Kovler benefits as chair of the Silent Auction subcommittee to generate money for participant support, and continues to provide interpretation for French-speaking participants. "I am grateful for the opportunity to help ease the transition into the next chapter of life for participants of the Marjorie Kovler Center. It has become a deeply cherished part of my life," beams Holly.