Two Associates of the Sisters of Divine Providence, Marlene McClain and Tish Donze from Pittsburgh Pa., spent two weeks in February volunteering at La Posada. Sister Zita asked Marlene to share her story for Tuesdays in Texas.
It has been approximately a month since we made our preliminary plan to visit La Posada. A few other Associates from Pittsburgh, Pa., have visited the shelter and they all share one feeling upon their return – it is a “life-changing experience.” Tish Donze and I definitely agree with that feeling but we’ve had a slightly different experience, mainly in the trip to get here.
On Sunday, February 10, Tish, I and my canine co-pilot, Molly, left Pittsburgh in my RV, a 29’ Coachman Leprechaun. I’ve traveled all over the country in my RV, either alone or with a childhood friend, Sister Betty Sundry, a former La Posada Providencia board member. The first day and a half on the road went very well. The second day was fine until we reached Cleveland, Tenn., when a problem arose as we stopped for gas.
With no mechanic on site, I began calling various locations. We did find a reputable local establishment who sent a mechanic over to us. After examination, he could not diagnose the problem so we were towed approximately five mile to his business. The owner happened to be the only RV mechanic from Georgia to Tennessee. He finally determined that the problem was the emergency brake assembly that would have to be replaced! He ordered the part, but it would not be in until Wednesday! He took us to a very nice motel nearby and assured us we would be able to continue our trip Wednesday. However, by Thursday, he called to tell me he could not get the assembly detached from the transmission and would have to replace the transmission as well. Yes, visions of dollar signs were dancing in my head!
However, I realized by now our Provident God was taking care of us. This situation could have easily happened on a deserted road or while traveling fast, causing an accident. It also could have happened in my own driveway, which would have resulted in cancelling the trip. I did call my Coachman dealer back home and explained the situation and he notified his service manager. After numerous phone calls to the service manager, another mechanic in Pennsylvania, and even phone calls to the mechanic in Tennessee, everyone, including me, realized both brake assembly and transmission had to be replaced.
We remained at the motel until Friday afternoon when the RV was finally repaired and we were able to continue our trip. We notified La Posada, Sisters Zita and Thérèse, the Provincial House in Allison Park, Pa., and our families. The RV was like “new” now. We finally arrived at La Posada at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday, February 17. We had driven a total of 1,812 miles! A wonderful welcoming party of 20 clients and staff members greeted us and even delayed dinner so they could eat with us.
Sisters Zita and Thérèse have been wonderful. Both Tish and I are learning client names and have started tutoring in the ESL classes. The division of labor and the multi-tasking here among the staff and clients is amazing. Everyone has a job which they complete with no complaints –jobs such as preparing meals, setting the table, doing dishes, cleaning, gardening and taking care of the compost barrels are all a part of the daily routine. This truly has been a “life-changing experience” and one to be thankful for. Above all, we are grateful to our Provident God for this experience, from beginning to end. I am looking forward to spending a second week here as Trish returns home to her job at Providence Family Support Center in Pittsburgh, Pa.
~ Marlene McClain, Associate
Sisters of Divine Providence