When the Catholic Health Association issued an urgent call for help at the U.S. Southern border in May 2019, caregivers from Providence St. Joseph Health stepped up to answer the call. The first team of volunteers deployed to McAllen, Texas, in June.
Providence volunteers served at the Humanitarian Respite Center operated by Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, where refugees were taken in droves after being released from detention.
The volunteer teams pitched in wherever there was a need, from cleaning showers and cooking to handing out supplies. They are also engaged in the simple act of being present with people in a difficult time.
The volunteers describe the conditions as a true humanitarian crisis – a sea of people who were exhausted, hungry and traumatized. Abject poverty and extreme violence are driving people from their homes in Central America, including Guatemala, where PSJH has been doing international work for years.
“Having seen the poverty and suffering in Guatemala, we understand the impulse to migrate,” said Aimee Khuu, PSJH executive director for global and domestic partnerships. “There is simply no clearer call to consciousness than to respond to the suffering of the migrant at this time.”
Providence collected donations for the Catholic Charities USA. It started out with an initial gift of $20,000 from the Community Partnership Fund. Providence St. Joseph Health offered matching contributions up to $100,000.
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