On April 21, 2014, Carmen McCanna, a high school senior from New Trier High School in Winnetka, Illinois, arrived at La Posada Providencia to begin a four-week volunteer service program as part of her school’s senior project. Carmen’s goal during this time was to learn about the shelter, its mission and its clients. Fortunately, Carmen was able to accomplish all of these goals while also gaining the benefit of the full La Posada daily life experience.
Carmen first learned about La Posada from her grandmother, who is a resident of San Benito, Texas, where La Posada is located. Her interest in selecting our shelter as her project peaked after reading newspaper articles and the information her grandmother sent her about the clients who come to the shelter and the services they are provided. Carmen said that coming to La Posada would provide her with a good opportunity to spend some time away from home to help others and as a way for her to grow as a person who is preparing to attend college. She also expressed her desire to share her ‘Rio Grande Valley’ experience with people in her home town and dispel inaccurate and negative perceptions that abound in her school about immigration and the South Texas region.
Carmen told us that what she most enjoyed was meeting and working with people from all over the world.
“The way our paths crossed was simply amazing,” Carmen said.
She learned that clients are very helpful, kind, and grateful while staying at the shelter, and that they do not have the “poor me” mentality. Tasks Carmen helped with included: tutoring clients, providing support to mothers by caring for and playing with children, assisting in the preparation of meals, providing support for a fundraising event, participating in a community presentation, working in the garden with clients, and assisting with office work.
Carmen stated she was very impressed with the resilience clients showed during her time at La Posada. She hopes that her project receives the attention that can help someone else relate to it personally.
On her last day, she expressed that she is leaving La Posada feeling amazed and very inspired with her experience. She is very grateful for everything the agency and clients taught her and plans to return to La Posada in the future while visiting her grandmother.
Sister Margaret Mertens, CDP, who acted as her community sponsor, expressed her gratitude on having Carmen as a volunteer.
“She is a bright and delightful individual that gave us a great amount of assistance each day; it was a pleasure having her here,” Sister Margaret said. “We welcome other students conducting similar service projects, regardless of the state where they reside.”