Jinette Cruz came to El Sol as a volunteer last spring, after Keiser University engaged with El Sol to start a service learning project there. The project, through Kimberley Lea, dean of the West Palm Beach campus, was to be with the legal program at Keiser. Jinette is studying at Keiser to be a paralegal, with a hope of one day being a lawyer. She was the ﬁrst and very enthusiastic recruit to Keiser’s service learning project.
Since she has been at El Sol, she has contributed her tremendous talent and time, not only by creating a dynamic Know Your Rights training, but also by running a weeklong “Get to Know El Sol” program at Keiser, through which the university’s students, faculty and staff got to know El Sol and donated over 100 pounds of food and paper goods to El Sol’s kitchen.
Jinette’s enthusiasm for El Sol is a natural, because she herself came to this country as an immigrant from the Dominican Republic. She had to leave her then 1-year-old son in her home country, while she came here with her husband to try to make a better life for their family. She has a lot of empathy for our clients, who, like her, have had to leave family behind, to work hard, sometimes at jobs no one else wants to do. She knows what it means to be down to your last $23 and no idea where the next $1 will come from.
Jinette’s hard work and a bit of luck paid off, and she now greatly appreciates being a U.S. citizen. She and her husband have a lovely home in Royal Palm Beach (she commutes almost one hour each way to volunteer at El Sol) which they enjoy with their two sons. (Her 3-year-old is a charmer and her older son is a popular student leader at Summit Christian School.) Jinette’s husband is employed as a butler in Palm Beach, and is an excellent cook, as well as being active in following the politics of his home country.
Jinette is a certiﬁed translator of legal documents, among her many talents. Her work at El Sol has been many-faceted. She has helped El Sol clients to complete immigration paperwork. She has driven clients to court, helping to explain the legal system to them in the process.
But her most outstanding contribution was her half-day Know Your Rights workshop. She worked with Juan Danilo Montejo of Corn Maya to create a funny yet educational short play, about the potential dangers immigrants can face, and how they can protect themselves, when dealing with immigration or police. Then she organized a week at her college, where students, staff and faculty had the opportunity to learn more about El Sol, and to donate food or paper goods, for use in El Sol’s kitchen.
Jinette is a multi-tasker. Besides being an active parent in her children’s school, and active in her church, she is also an ofﬁcer of Phi Theta Kappa Student Honor Society, and recently was awarded a scholarship at Keiser called “Students Making a Difference.”
Jinette is deﬁnitely a student making a difference. She has been a gift to El Sol. She says, “It’s an honor to know that I was selected volunteer of the month at El Sol. It’s a pleasure to serve El Sol and its members, and working with you as well. I thank you all for giving me the opportunity to serve my community.”