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Monday, 18 February 2019 22:56

Compassion and Hospitality on the Border

Written by Jerrie Drinkwine
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Compassion and Hospitality on the Border

Jerrie Drinkwine – Seattle Chapter

News flashes of a caravan of people from Central America moving through Mexico to seek asylum in the US filled television screens and social media throughout 2018. Scenes of children being separated from parents horrified most Americans. With these haunting reports, a team of five people from Holy Family Parish, Kirkland, WA, decided to go to the Texas/Mexico border in McAllen, to volunteer at the Humanitarian Respite Center in support of these asylum seekers and to gain information for a possible Adult Mission Trip in February 2019.

Al Drinkwine, left, and Karen and Mark Smith make sandwiches.

What happens after a family is processed by the Border Patrol and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and enters the Respite Center mirrors the social teachings of Jesus. Families come off prison buses from ICE with one adult per family having a tracking device secured to one ankle. All shoe laces and belts have been removed by ICE to prevent potential suicide. Once in the Respite Center, they are welcomed warmly by a team of volunteers and four paid staff members. This is where the hospitality and compassion take place.

Jerrie Drinkwine folds laundry.

Guests are offered hot soup with a piece of bread or tortilla and water. Staff members help adults with family members or sponsors living in the US get bus tickets. Guests are provided with clean clothes and warm showers. Children have a chance to play games or color pictures with other children. Each night a different church furnishes a delicious hot dinner.

Andrea Liggett sorts laundry in the clothes room.

Once ready for the next part of their journey, families receive a snack pack that consists of four sandwiches, two bottles of water, chips, crackers, and cookies, to take on their bus ride to their sponsor. This trip could take up to three days. If guests cannot get a bus out that day, they spend the night in the Respite Center on mats and are given a breakfast of cold cereal and a banana in the morning. Recently, there were 302 guests sleeping on the floor at the Humanitarian Respite Center. The goal is to process guests through the Respite Center within 24 hours. Currently, there have been 250-400 guests per day.

At the Respite Center, people from all over the US provide a continuous flow of love and outreach—and the need is immense. Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley rely on donations and volunteers to make this happen. To learn more about the center and to see works of compassion in action, go to:

www.catholiccharitiesrgv.org/HumanitarianRespiteCenter.shtml

After volunteering for seven days, we were passionate about returning with an Adult Mission group to “Share the Journey” with our brothers and sisters. This trip takes place February 24 to March 2, 2019. Joining Holy Family Kirkland (HFK) will be Seattle’s Maryknoll priest, Fr. Robert Wynne, and Affiliates Roger and Kitty Schiltz and Al and Jerrie Drinkwine. The mission has been coordinated through the joint efforts of CRS Parish Ambassadors Mark and Karen Smith, Al and Jerrie Drinkwine, and HFK Outreach Minister, Andrea Liggett.

Maryknoll Affiliates and Catholic Relief Services share a joint mission of living in solidarity with our brothers and sisters around the world, of sharing our spirituality, and of putting our faith into action. As Pope Francis fosters a greater awareness of mission, we embrace his message that we are “Baptized and Sent.”

As simple as it seems, shoelaces are the item in high demand. With so many guests, the center goes through an average of 300 pairs of shoelaces daily. Dollar Tree sells eight pair of shoelaces for $1.00.

Should you want to donate any, send them to:

Sisters of Mercy  
(Please mark “Border Aid”)
c/o Sisters of Mercy-Border Aid
Development Office
515 Montgomery Avenue
Merion, PA   19066


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Read 640 times Last modified on Wednesday, 20 February 2019 03:46
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