This summer we have had to say farewell to one of our original team members. Since Benach Collopy opened doors on April 2, 2012, Sandra Arboleda was here ready with a fresh cup of coffee and a desire to help our clients through the challenges of U.S. immigration law. Sandra is moving on to seek an advanced degree in social work. her passion for helping people, which served us and our clients so well here, demands that she improve her education to put her talent and determination to use in the field of social work.
Like much of our staff, Sandra started as a client of the firm. She came to the U.S. from Cali, Colombia as an au pair, caring for children in Washington DC. While here, she fell in love with Ted and they married. While at a previous firms, attorneys from BR represented Sandra and Ted in seeking her residence, removing her conditional status, and obtaining her U.S. citizenship last month.
Sandra helped set the tone for our office. We wanted our office to be a place where people felt welcomed and comfortable. The world is a hard place for an immigrant and we wanted the people coming to our office to feel welcome and cared for the minute they called on the phone or walked through our doors. Sandra grasped that immediately. No one did more to make our office a welcoming place than Sandra. It started with Sandra’s obsessive commitment to making the best cup of coffee possible. No ground coffee from the office supply store here. No Styrofoam cups. You get a freshly ground and carefully sourced cup of coffee in a real coffee cup. Sandra, with the pride of a Colombian for coffee, insisted on a first rate coffee service. A warm greeting, a smile and a fresh cup of hot coffee set the tone for everyone who visited us.
As our Client Services Manager, Sandra walked clients through every step of the process. Lawyers go to court and are often in meetings. Sandra was always available to help a client out with a billing or appointment question. We like to say that Sandra was our clients’ lawyer- when an attorney needed to focus on something, Sandra made sure that it got the attention it needed. When dealing with a challenging and often traumatic immigration process where the system treats you as less than human, it is always nice to be able to share your concern with someone who has been through the process and emerged on the other side.
We will miss Sandra’s care and concern for the client, her elation at their successes and her frustration at their challenges. We will miss her cheerful presence. But mostly, we will miss her cup of coffee- it defines so much of who we are.