The 2022 fall and winter seasons were similar to others for mothers and children who are displaced from their homes. Mothers have little to no money of their own to provide a special meal, activities or gifts for their children. Amid trying times and trauma, Bellarmine Parish stepped in to assist in multiple ways for Casa de Paz families.
First, the parish sponsored a Share the Journey Concert with some of the most talented musicians, singers and songwriters that I have heard. The parish selected Casa de Paz as one of the recipients of donations that were gathered at the concert. Local and international artists performed for the benefit of immigrants and other marginalized groups in our Community. The music was exquisite and inspiring.
A Thanksgiving meal for immigrants was held on the campus of Xavier University, organized by the parish’s immigration team. Casa de Paz families attended, giving our moms and their children the opportunity to taste traditional thanksgiving menu items. The expressions of gratitude at the event were a reminder to us of the impact on our lives of sharing and experiencing special moments with others. Our families were given bundles of food to take with them. As food pantries are emptied and food prices rise, these gifts were a blessing.
On December 18, Casa de Paz residents were invited to sell handicrafts and unique gifts at Bellarmine Parish after Sunday masses. When I introduced this idea to our residents in mid-October, I wondered how much time they would have to dedicate to this project. The moms had little ones who tugged at their pants’ legs and required almost constant attention. On the other hand, since work outside the home was difficult to find, having this opportunity to use their talents to produce some needed revenue for the future was really important. The next time I visited, I saw motivation, resilience and determination in the form of many beautiful crafts for the holidays! The day of the sale the women unloaded boxes of tree decorations, including angels, santas, and reindeer. They also created nutcrackers, snow globes, bracelets, trees and other fun decorations. Each of the women kept 100% of their sale money to invest in their family’s future. The parishioners were generous with their purchases to support the survivors’ efforts.
Through the Giving Tree Project at Bellarmine Parish, the families at Casa de Paz received Christmas presents from parishioners. Mothers and children had a wonderful Christmas morning with so many generous gifts like bicycles, soccer balls, clothing and shoes. The children and their moms were so happy to receive gifts that they were not expecting. And, just when we least expected it, only three days before the holidays, we received new families. A social mission grant from Bellarmine funded gifts for the new families so that everyone had gifts to open.
I know that Casa de Paz would not be operating without the generosity of spirit of so many inspiring and passionate parishioners at Bellarmine Parish. Our families, staff and board of directors are so grateful to all of you!