Volunteer helps navigate courthouse

When Jessica Cruz Alfaro was serving a diner one day at a Denny’s restaurant, she stopped to chat.

“I want to do something for my community,” Alfaro told Capt. Raheem Aleem, head of the community services unit for the Durham County Sheriff’s Office.

Aleem immediately saw a win-win.

Now, Alfaro is the first volunteer “navigator” at the Durham County Justice Center. Three days a week, she is on hand to help people figure out where they need or have to go in the 11-floor courthouse.

Many people arrive at the courthouse confused, Aleem said. They “get kind of flustered and they leave. Next thing you know they get a warrant for not appearing.”

For warding off that outcome, and for helping countless visitors to the courthouse, Alfaro earns this week’s Durham Grit Award.