Alex Pace is intimidating.
The former University of Cincinnati and professional defensive tackle is a hulking presence no matter the crowd or occasion. You can easily imagine him busting through an offensive line before consuming the opposing quarterback with a painful onslaught.
Spend even a few minutes with him however and it becomes clear that despite his physical presence, he’s a gentle giant with a soft heart. His coworkers can attest to his calm and quiet demeanor and his supervisor,
Kody Krebs, is a huge fan.
Two fathers from Guatemala recently discovered he’s an amazing addition to any team.
Krebs shared just how far Pace was willing to go to take care of them and their families:
“Alex has been with our agency as an ongoing caseworker for a little over 10 months. He goes above and beyond on all cases, but he did outstanding work on one particular case. It was a double case with two fathers who had sought asylum in Cincinnati from Guatemala. The mothers couldn’t join them so the fathers supported one another and helped care for the children together. Because of their undocumented status, the family was fearful to engage with the agency and faced many barriers along the way. Alex built trust, expressed empathy and respect, and demonstrated a commitment to the family.
He worked for over six months to help the fathers locate and secure housing that would accept them as well as with community partners to get the children’s school transferred and to assist in furnishing the apartment. He often met with the family multiple times per month and even drove the fathers to the bus stop after a meeting because it was raining heavily, and they did not have umbrellas. Alex was very responsive to the fathers and ensured they felt comfortable. He was a huge player in eliminating barriers and securing resources so the family can be self-sufficient.”
Pace gained a deep appreciation for how difficult it can be for people from “outside” the system.
“We take for granted how easy it is because we have a Social Security card or because we were born here and so are automatically privileged," he said. "For others who aren’t, I got to see how difficult it was because I was with them every step of the way.”
And though Pace speaks some Spanish, the two fathers primarily spoke Mam, a Mayan dialect. It took a lot of extra time and effort to make sure they were understanding each other through the whole process.
“The kids had never celebrated Christmas before, so it was cool because we were able to get them a whole bunch of toys and other things they’ve never had before. It was just a really great time for the family to be back together.”
Pace’s personal faith informs his public service.
“We’re put here on Earth to be there for each other, to help each other when someone’s down, not just walk by them or do nothing," he said. "It’s about compassion."