BROWNSVILLE – As COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the community, First Presbyterian church in Brownsville saw the need to provide a safe place for first responders who need to quarantine to keep their families safe after testing positive for the virus.

Just a few weeks after its 170th anniversary, the church had to close due to the pandemic and decided to turn its outreach center into a safe place where first responders can quarantine away from their family in order to stop the virus. The place is equipped with restrooms and a kitchenette.

“We needed to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes so, if we were in that situation, how would we want to be treated? And our first responders risk their life and health daily to protect our community and we just feel that offering a safe respite quarantine area, which has showers and a kitchenette, if we can offer this to make sure that these heroes’ families are safe, this is the very least we at First Presbyterian can do,” Pastor Sheri Dittman said.

Dittman said the church first heard of the need to provide such a place after one of the church worshipers, Dan Benavides, who works for Border Patrol and is a former firefighter, told them about the situation. After virtually talking with the congregation, they turned the place into a respite center equipped with foldable beds, a reclinable chair and more. So far, only one firefighter has needed to stay there.

“We had originally thought that we would sell the building and move our offices back to the big church building and I am marveled that God works in such mysterious ways,” Dittman said referring to the building used now as a respite center.

“Our members and community members are volunteering meals, snacks and have even donated a recliner to make sure these people know they are much appreciated and loved. Angels come in many ways and forms during this pandemic, I am just amazed at the outpouring of love and support that we do.”

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