El Paso

El Paso

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Welcome to Annunciation House (5/29/15)

    I figure I should talk a little about the organization that I will be working with for the next 2 months.  Annunciation House is a Catholic organization that started back in 1978, originally to serve and live in solidarity with the poor of El Paso. The founders, who had literally dropped everything in their lives to make this effort, soon discovered that the poorest of the poor were people that couldn’t even get into the two available homeless shelters in the city – immigrants, particularly ones without papers (i.e. the undocumented).  Soon after this realization, A-House began housing immigrants, and the volunteers/founders that started it were living with them.
    This is a very shortened history of A-House, and I do not know much of the history between the initial years of after its founding and now, but the organization now consists of three locations: Annunciation House, Casa Vides, and Loretto (I will talk about this last one in another post).  A-House is the main house, and is more unpredictable than Casa Vides. A-House has short-term guests, long-term guests, undocumented people, unaccompanied minors, people from various countries (including Ghana and Nigeria), and so on.  Casa Vides is more long term for families waiting for processing documents and social security guests.  Social security guests are women, typically pretty up there in age, who had husbands or fathers that worked in the United States as a citizen or resident and are eligible for Social Security benefits. To get these benefits, they either have to come to the US once a month to sign some papers or live in the US for one month every six months.  Many choose to stay with us for one month every six months, as many come from the south of Mexico and take 20-30 hour bus rides to get here. (Mind you, many of these women are in their sixties).  This makes where I am staying fairly calm, and there is a really nice, familial atmosphere about the house.
    So what the volunteers do is help the houses run.  There is a volunteer on shift each day in each house, and that volunteer assists residents with anything they may need, they make sure that there is enough laundry soap, toilet paper, etc. stocked around the house, we sort through food donations to get rid of what is going bad, and so on.  Each volunteer is assigned specific guests that we attend to, but not exclusively. We also can each have shifts at Loretto. When we are not on shift and are not officially off, it is best if we hang around and spend time with the guests, which I find to pretty great (I’ll mention some specific guests in later post ).  To be honest, this job is almost exactly like being a Community Advisor (Resident Assistant) in a residence hall back at college.
    That is the general gist of what we do here, and I am sure there is more that I will continue learning through to the end of orientation.  If you all want to look more into the organization, please visit annunciationhouse.org!

Until next time, I send you all some light and love,

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