"For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.” Matthew 25:35-36
Tucson, Ariz., - Most migrants arriving to the Arizona border are mothers, children, and pregnant women from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. Leaving their poverty-stricken homes, most have traveled through Mexico, a journey of several days to weeks with little food and supplies.
For over two years, Casa Alitas, an affiliate of Catholic Community Services, has been providing aid to migrant families in Tucson, Arizona who are in need of help.
After migrant travelers are released from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Border Patrol custody, they are in need of assistance in continuing their journey to reunite with family members in the United States. Casa Alitas provides hospitality and humanitarian aid to their guests by offering a safe place to rest, rehydrate, eat, and care for their children. They also provide a change of clothes, beds, basic amenities, legal orientation, and assistance making travel arrangements.
West Coast Mennonite Central Committee (West Coast MCC) is beginning a new partnership with Catholic Community Services, more specifically Casa Alitas, as a commitment to continue serving migrant families with immigration needs. West Coast MCC is providing a new full-time staff person to coordinate with volunteers to facilitate immediate aid for migrant guests that will began in early September.
"We felt this was a great opportunity to expand our work in the area of immigration and migration” explains Nate Yoder, Executive Director of West Coast MCC. “The people coming to Casa Alitas are fleeing violence and desperate hunger and poverty. This is one small way we share Christ's love and peace with those seeking asylum and trying to reconnect with family in the United States."
Katherine Smith has gladly accepted the position of the new Casa Alitas site coordinator. She says that “uniting” people is a passion of hers and loves assisting people when they are in new contexts. Smith describes this new opportunity as her dream job.
“If you were to have asked me a few years ago what my dream job was, I would have said, ‘having a position where I am leading people, acting as a liaison between people from the U.S and other countries, either in the U.S. or abroad’” says Smith. “With this position I hope to live out some of these passions and interests while working alongside volunteers and recent immigrants”.
Smith will be coordinating the recruitment, training and scheduling of all the volunteers serving the migrant guests in the Casa Alitas home. She will also be involved with community outreach and advocacy activities on behalf of Alitas.
Serving in Guatemala this past year as a SALT participant helped prepare Smith for this new role. (Click here to learn more about her SALT experience) Since many of the migrant family travelers are from that region, she feels she has a better understanding of where they may be coming from and is hopeful to helping them feel welcome.