The Sisters of Divine Providence (CDPs) began their sponsorship of La Posada Providencia in 1989, following their religious community’s 1985 International Chapter appeal for volunteers to assist refugees worldwide. In response, Former Sister Alice Lawler, CDP, became Executive Director for Proyecto Libertad, a paralegal agency working in tandem with ProBAR, a legal-aid agency, in Harlingen, Texas. She communicated (from first-hand experience) the need to provide temporary shelter for immigrant and refugee clients of these pro-bono agencies. Before then, there was no place for indigent and legally documented refugees to receive basic living assistance until resettlement could be arranged. It was not unusual for these clients to sleep on an office floor or at a paralegal’s home. La Posada’s first client, Teresa from El Salvador, arrived on December 1, 1989.
Because of its proximity to the U.S. border with Mexico, the lower Rio Grande, at the southernmost tip of Texas, is a thoroughfare for recent immigrants. In 1989, however, it lacked the infrastructure needed to serve this population effectively. Over time and as La Posada moved to larger quarters to accommodate more clients, additional and important resettlement services were needed such as employment readiness; accessible English classes and life-skills education; adequate local public transportation; and access to social services and healthcare until legal status is resolved. After several moves, in 1995, La Posada settled into its permanent location in nearby San Benito.
With time, La Posada has cultivated a network of community collaborators consisting of social services agencies, medical and dental professionals, immigration attorneys, churches and volunteer groups. Changes in immigration policies and migration trends helped to form these alliances and the services required to effect optimum resettlement.
Since 1989, we have welcomed more than 11,000 clients originating from 87 different countries around the world – from countries as close as Central America to as far away as Africa, Eastern Europe and Asia.
With God’s Providence, La Posada will continue to honor the gospel mandate to welcome the stranger for years to come.