Dreaming of a new life: Victor Escalona

SAN BENITO — Six years ago, Victor Escalona left his home in Venezuela with the dream of starting a new life in the United States.

Like most of their clients, Victor arrived to La Posada Providencia with few possessions and hope in his heart.

“I came to the United States six years ago. Like all beginnings, it was tough; but with perseverance, I have been able to overcome most obstacles,” Victor said.

“In 2011, I moved from the Rio Grande Valley area to western Pennsylvania to start my new life. My immediate goal was to improve my English skills and immerse myself into the American culture. Today, I continue to have an accent, but I do my best to improve it every single day.”

La Posada Providencia, founded and sponsored by the Sisters of Divine Providence, is a ministry for people in crisis from around the world, who are seeking legal refuge in this country.

The shelter staff provides a safe and welcoming home, mentors to promote self-sufficiency and cultural integration, and imparts values “which witness God’s Providence in our world.”

“La Posada never stops working for the benefit of the hundreds of men, women and children who come through our doors every year,” said Alma Rock, development coordinator.

“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.”

Last January, La Posada officials received an exciting call from an overjoyed Victor informing them he had become a United States Citizen.

Monica Peña-Rasmussen, La Posada’s client coordinator, recalls when Victor resided at La Posada.

“He was a very good resident; a very helpful and educated man who always gave a helping hand when it was needed,” Monica says. “We are very proud of him realizing his dream of becoming a U.S. citizen.”

In 2015, Victor applied to and was hired as a bilingual Customer Service Representative for a health insurance company in downtown Pittsburgh that serves Medicare and Medicaid recipients.

“I love helping others and giving back, so this job has been a perfect match for me,” Victor said. “I always remember everything La Posada did for me and I will forever be thankful.”

What is La Posada?

La Posada grows in numbers every year. “Every year we serve more people and grow so much,” said Alma Rock, development coordinator.

All of the shelter’s clients are referred by the U.S. Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement or local immigration attorneys.

They are in the legal process of seeking asylum, residency or some other legal alternative.

While they wait for their cases to advance through the court system, most of these individuals have no place to go and arrive at La Posada’s doorstep with nothing.

Staff members ensure they receive the necessary legal aid, health care, social services and other relocation assistance.