Almost 20 years had passed since Luis Santillana and his wife, Zoila, first set foot at La Posada Providencia.
A lot has changed since that day in 1996, both for the former clients and for the shelter, but it all has been for the better.
“This is the second time we’ve visited La Posada since we were clients,” said Luis, who, along with his wife and daughter, came to visit La Posada this past weekend to give donations and remember the place that turned their life around.
“We see a lot of things have changed for the better at La Posada,” Luis continued. “There are more buildings than there were before when we lived here. The handling of cases has changed; it’s a lot different now. Everything has improved and grown, which is great.”
Luis and his wife, who now live in Texas, arrived at La Posada after fleeing violence and political persecution in El Salvador, their homeland.
“We were at risk of losing our lives for ideological reasons; we were persecuted for thinking differently than the government,” Luis explained.
They decided to leave their three kids under the care of their grandmother while they searched for a better life – first, in Mexico, and then, in the U.S.
“It took about three years before we were reunited,” Luis said.
After arriving La Posada, and reuniting with their kids, the couple was able to secure permanent residency, full time jobs, and all their children went on to become college graduates.
Luis said he always looks for ways to give back to the community, and has worked on immigration projects, all because of the inspiration he received from La Posada and those who took care of him and his wife.
“We feel attached to the place,” Luis said. “We did so many things there. We worked with other clients and built relationships. We learned a lot about life in the U.S. We left with so many good memories.”
La Posada Program Director Sister Zita Telkamp, CDP, said it is always very rewarding when a client comes back to visit and talks of his or her success story.
“It shows the world that we are succeeding,” Sister Zita said. “It tells people who support La Posada that their money is being put to good use. Like Luis and his family, so many of our clients become good citizens, taxpayers, volunteers. They go on to help other people. The La Posada experience has a ripple effect that touches many lives, even after La Posada.
Luis left a word of advice for current and future clients of La Posada: everything is possible, if you try hard.
“La Posada is a new beginning,” Luis said. “You can become anything you want. This is a land of opportunities and you can get whatever you want if you work really hard to get it. It’s not easy, but if you work hard, you will get it.”
Finally, Luis wanted to express to La Posada volunteers and staff a heartfelt thank you.
“I want to thank them from the bottom of my heart for all the help that they gave us,” he said. “We love them. We love the work they do. We always try to help others because serving others is a concept that remained with us after leaving La Posada. Thank you for all the teachings.”