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Jesuit Volunteer Corps profile: Bianca Fernandez

Bianca Fernandez

Bianca Fernandez Photo by Julie Raefield-Gobbo.

Age: 23

Hometown: Miami, Fla.

Graduated: University of Notre Dame, 2011; B.A. in anthropology

Assigned in Hood River as a service associate, Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital, Faith in Action program

Bianca Fernandez speaks three languages: English, Spanish and Italian. She also speaks a universal language recognized by people of every age — compassion.

Fernandez, with a kindness that shines from her gentle smile, is well suited for her new work in Hood River. She is helping the Faith in Action program through PRHMH in its efforts to connect willing volunteers with elderly adults in need of extra help to stay in their homes.

“This work is about lightening a burden through sharing; through establishing relationships,” said Fernandez, who has already met with more than 35 elderly adults in the program. “I am blessed to hear so many of their stories.”

There are 50 volunteers already serving the more than 75 elderly seeking assistance. Fernandez is offering to build those relationships and reach out to other potential volunteers in the community.

“Some people just need short-term help after a surgery. Others need ongoing relationships,” said Fernandez. “We are also hoping to extend some of the care giver-care receiver relationships through end of life companionship as well.”

Beginning her college career with a focus on becoming a doctor, Fernandez was influenced by several cross-cultural service experiences through her school that changed her direction. She later turned to anthropology — with a particular interest in gathering stories from individuals of different cultural backgrounds.

“I got involved with our Center for Social Concerns through my college. I worked in a program for children working near a reservation and in an orphanage with children who were developmentally delayed or HIV-positive. Both of those experiences were really formative,” said Fernandez.

“I learned I wanted to have relationships be at the core of my work,” said Fernandez. “I really love working with Providence. I am blessed to share the lives of so many fascinating people many of whom have lived in Hood River their whole life.”

While still considering her road ahead, Fernandez is sure that she will keep a holistic view of the people she serves at the forefront and credits JVC in helping her strengthen that commitment.

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