A Volunteer’s Journal

A Volunteer’s Journal

At around five-thirty p.m., at 1610 Marydale Road in San Benito, Texas, you can almost always find Client Mentor Thérèse Cunningham, SHSp hard at work in the kitchen, cutting up potatoes or cabbage for dinner. Someone is setting the table. Yosmel is preparing lemonade and ice tea to drink. Martin is at the Resaca, reeling fish in from the muddy water or gathering buckets of tiny shrimp for bait. Levis is studying English grammar books, silently mouthing new words before trying them out aloud. Someone is playing music from Honduras or Cuba on the computer, and outside, you can hear huge flocks of chacalaca birds chattering over the fields.

I love meal-times at La Posada, when we all gather together as a family. As a volunteer ESL instructor here at La Posada, it’s been my privilege to get to know each of the clients as an individual over the past three weeks. I can honestly say I’ve learned something from every one of them. Although I really enjoy teaching English to the clients, I think I most enjoy the things we do together that don’t involve words – cooking, cleaning, sharing meals and working outside.

This past Saturday, Margaret Mertens, CDP, Yosmel, Karim, Sied and I packed up our bundles of homegrown garden vegetables and headed to the farmer’s market in Harlingen, Texas. We sold onions, lettuce, beets, turnips, broccoli and carrots. At the end of the afternoon, our table was empty except for three heads of lettuce! Over the past two weeks, we’ve made close to $50 from our garden produce.

MORE importantly, the farmer’s market has given us a great venue for spreading the word about La Posada to members of the local community. Many visitors to our vegetable stand asked for brochures and contact information. They expressed interest in volunteering, donating, or just coming to visit.

Building these kinds of relationships is important. Many people don’t care about immigration … because it seems totally removed and distant from them. They only know about immigration issues and immigrants in a removed, abstract way. But when we get to know people different from ourselves on a personal level – as friends, and not as newspaper statistics – we can’t help but care about their lives, because we see that they are no different from ourselves. This has certainly been my experience, and my privilege, during both of my visits here to La Posada.

Yesterday, we celebrated Sister Margaret’s two weeks here at La Posada and wished her safe travels as she returned to her Community in St. Louis this morning. We welcomed Miguel, a returning client visiting from Longview, Texas, and Sied, a new client from Eritrea. We look forward to the return of Program Director Zita Telkamp, CDP, who has been enjoying a much-needed respite in Pittsburgh, and Program Assistant Joseph Rodriguez, who is in Shanghai, China until the 20th!

Happy Valentine’s Day! Thank you to everyone at La Posada who has taught me about solidarity, friendship, and the kind of love that reveals itself through giving.

~Eve Marie Blasinsky