SAN BENITO — The most touching and memorable event for the clients of La Posada Providencia is their first Christmas in the United States.
During this time, they have the opportunity to actively participate in the Mexican tradition of “las posadas,” a re-enactment of the biblical journey of Mary and Joseph as they searched for shelter in Bethlehem before the birth of Jesus.
The tradition of giving “posada” to a family in need is not only a re-enactment that is celebrated each December at La Posada, but rather it is the cornerstone of La Posada’s mission.
Each year, the shelter welcomes hundreds of vulnerable women and families who are waiting for the birth of a child.
As with Mary and Joseph, clients need a safe shelter.
While their cultures and languages can vary significantly, they all are fleeing their native lands for the same reason — to seek safety for their children, away from the violence and oppression that threatened their lives every day.
Founded in 1989 by the Sisters of Divine Providence, La Posada offers shelter for immigrants, asylum seekers and asylees recently processed by U.S. immigration authorities.
The shelter is one of 21 organizations benefiting from AIM Media Texas Charities’ campaign to raise funds for the hungry, homeless and those in need of basic essentials in the Rio Grande Valley.
AIM Media Texas is the parent company of the Valley Morning Star, The Brownsville Herald, The Monitor in McAllen and the Mid-Valley Town Crier.
“It is a great day for all the Rio Grande Valley organizations who give their best efforts to help the neediest in our community,” said La Posada Development Coordinator Alma Gonzalez-Rock.
“We can’t help but be proud and grateful to AIM Media Texas for this wonderful philanthropic gesture.”
La Posada has provided shelter and given hope to thousands of women and families for the past 26 years and they do more than provide safe shelter — they help ensure their clients’ success.
Last year, La Posada staff provided more than 6,000 bed nights, more than 21,000 meals and drove clients more than 25,000 miles to and from appointments, bus stops, health centers and social service agencies.
Several projects at the shelter were started and completed because of donors who heeded the call to help.
Some of these projects included establishing a butterfly garden for clients to learn about sustainability and the environment, a new playground for the children given by the Trull Foundation and a 1,000-square-foot, three-bedroom, two-bathroom, pre-manufactured home for live-in staff.
“La Posada never stops working for the benefit of the hundreds of men, women and children who come through our doors every year,” Rock said. “We are constantly looking for ways to improve our services and infrastructure. We never know when an influx in clients will occur, so we must always be prepared to serve.”
While client cases progress through the courts, they help them prepare for life in this country and provide emotional support when needed.
The families often arrive at La Posada with very few possessions, limited or no English language skills and no friends or family to help them.
The shelter works with clients to help them integrate more quickly into United States culture and makes every effort to meet the needs of their clients, who are at first a very vulnerable group of people, shelter workers say.
La Posada’s services include shelter, food, English language classes, life skills classes, access to the Internet, email and individualized case management.
On the second day that they are here, they are enrolled in English as a Second Language classes. It’s a requirement.
Staff members help each client to ensure they receive the necessary legal aid, health care, social services and other relocation assistance.
La Posada provides door-to-door transportation to doctors, dentists, lawyers’ offices and immigration offices.
Staff members say they help clients become familiar with the values, customs and social practices typical in the U.S., including currency, personal finance and employment practices.
Rock said it’s easy to think only about the politics when referring to La Posada. But she wants to remind the community that La Posada has only one goal in mind — to help people in need.
“We’re not on any side, we are neither Republican nor Democrat,” she said. “We are working toward social justice.”