(San Benito, Texas) Less than a year after La Posada Providencia announced its milestone of reaching 7,000 clients, the shelter has now welcomed its 8,000th client amidst an unprecedented influx of immigrants arriving in the lower Rio Grande Valley. This surge has more than quadrupled the shelter’s annual client intake.
“What a privilege it has been for the Sisters of Divine Providence, staff, volunteers and donors to have touched so many lives making God’s Providence more visible in the world and giving hope to 8,000 people,” said Program Director Sister Zita Telkamp. “May God be praised as we continue onward.”
La Posada reached its 7,000th client in November 2013. On June 30, La Posada closed the 2014 fiscal year with a record-breaking number of clients served. In total, La Posada provided assistance to 1,411 clients from 28 different countries, including 555 adult women and 631 children under the age of 18. In years past, the average annual number of clients served totaled 250.
Client No. 8000
Our 8000th client is a gentleman from a country in East Africa, whose identity and country of origin can’t be shared with the public in order to protect the family he left behind. He has been granted political asylum status in the United States. He arrived at La Posada on July 20th.
La Posada’s Client Coordinator, MonicaPeña-Rasmussen, spoke about his case.
“It was a matter of life and death,” Peña-Rasmussen said. “If he didn’t leave, the rebels were going to kill him. The country he was living in is lawless and in chaos. He was assisting the government in restoring order and, because of that, he was in danger.”
Peña-Rasmussen said the client was assaulted and threatened by terrorists groups. He endured a long and dangerous journey through Africa, South America and Central America before arriving on U.S. soil.
“When I told him he was the 8000th client of La Posada, he said he was very grateful for centers like La Posada that help people in his situation,” Peña-Rasmussen explained. “He was getting misty-eyed because he said this is his second chance at a life. He couldn’t express with words his thankfulness to land in a place like La Posada that understands and can help him with his situation.”
Not just another number
Peña-Rasmussen said regardless of the number of clients La Posada receives, each one is treated with the same respect, compassion and hard work.
“For each arriving client, it’s their first experience with us, so we treat them like our first client,” she said. “We always try to put ourselves in their shoes. How would we want to be treated if we were enduring what they endured? We all deserve the same dignity.”