There’s always room at the Inn

La Posada Providencia

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The Sisters of Providence first came to the US from Germany in the 1870s, in order to teach newly arrived immigrants in Pennsylvania.  Now, 150 years later, Sisters Terez, Margaret, and Zita are hosting up to 400 refugees in their shelter every year.  Since 1989, they have sheltered over 8,000 people from 70+ countries.  On average, they host up to 300 people per year – but in 2014, they sheltered over 1,000 people.

la posada

The sisters wanted their shelter to reflect Biblical Hospitality, so they named it after the Inn where Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus received shelter when they were travelers in need.  The 24/7 emergency homeless shelter houses refugees, asylum seekers, and victims of human trafficking.  These individuals have been processed and cleared by ICE/Border agents, but are facing an extremely long court process.  Not only do the sisters provide a temporary home, but they also promote self-sufficiency and emotional healing.  Check them out at https://lppshelter.org/

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The sisters use volunteers to teach 4 hours of English classes every day for every resident – no matter their age, first language, or English skills.  That’s intense!

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The shelter hires someone to prepare meals.  All the sisters, staff, residents, and volunteers have lunch together every day, family style.  A chance to practice English, because it’s not uncommon for all 12 people at a table to speak different languages!

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The children play without a lot of words 🙂  

One of the great things about La Posada Providencia is that they provide more than just shelter.  They provide space for healing.

The refugees which come to them have no where else to go. It takes time – sometimes just a few days, but often a few weeks – to arrange the logistics of a life in the US.  Once ICE releases these individuals, they are often very emotionally traumatized, sometimes also physically injured.  Without a family, or a job, where are they going to live?

The sisters give them space.  They teach English, computer skills, and job skills.  They focus on recycling and gardening, too.

The residents work together to grow food in the garden, to compost and recycle waste, to clean all of the indoor and outdoor spaces, to prepare food, to wash laundry, to study English, to care for the children, and to heal together.

Volunteers have built most of the facilities, donate most of the food and clothing, and lead most of the English classes.  But the sisters live on site, providing help 24/7/365 to whomever needs them for the last 27 years.

Unfortunately, the sisters are aging – they should have all retired at least 10 years ago.  But despite some regular volunteers and paid staff, they’re still doing the majority of the work in this shelter, and there isn’t anyone to take it on when they’re gone.  I wonder what La Posada will look like in the future?

 

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