Monday, February 18, 2019

McAllen Feb '19 #7

leftover from yesterday.....I discovered the kitchen was making coffee! I guess I've never gone in at the right time. Coffee! Three large percolator things. And when done, they add milk and sugar. But I got several cups of black before that. Yum. I can be a coffee snob for sure, but only when I can afford to be. If coffee is offered, I will drink it regardless.

I saw a bunch of guys wearing shirts with McDonald's on them. Went to check the men's clothes room and a) discovered  a couple of stacks of them. Must have been donated, lol. b) also discovered a young teenager sitting and waiting for clients, in the middle of a room with pants and shirts thrown all over. I suggested perhaps if he organized the pants, he could help people more quickly. He was surprised then agreed. Common sense, sigh.

I guess it was good to take the afternoon off yesterday. The Nun actually said they missed me yesterday, and my lovely Alma again called me her angel. A little gratitude goes a long way.....

Speaking of the so-called national emergency, shortly after I arrived this morning at 7, someone had organized an army of refugees to clean, empty trash, put up mats, sweep...some were even covering the grounds outside picking up trash. And lots of women were helping with breakfast. I was even able to recruit one refugee woman & child to work the coat room. Impressive how much they want to give back...and this admin treats them as less than animals. Makes me so angry.

There were still some 400 or more people in the center when I arrived, out of the over 700 that arrived yesterday. We got as many ready and out to the bus and/or bus station (one company sends a bus directly to us) with blankets, bags of food, hats if possible, toys for the kids. But at noon, when a break might have been nice, the first ICE bus arrived, with a second close behind. We had so many people milling around in the central reception area that we had to triage lines here, there, for this, and for that. We got that settled and got through registering (calling families/busses/arranging itineraries) when another ICE bus came....closely followed by a second. Repeat scenario except this time we still have first 2 busses people along with people leaving.

It got to the point that we had to start taking people to the bus station even if they weren't leaving until this evening. And the decision was made, since the sandwiches are ham & cheese, to NOT give out the food but instead, keep it refrigerated and take a boat load over tonight. That might have been feasible had there not been another 2 busses...and another 2....and another 2. What do they think we can do with all these people? ALL staff were called in; we had volunteers but they were stretched thin. They will be working, literally until after midnight, helping these refugees. So I am not sure how a boat load of food bags will get to the bus station but....

I am flying home tomorrow, in between Sunday's heavy snow and tomorrow night's predicted 7 inches. Hoping the flights are ok.  Looking forward to seeing Maggie and Rafa and Cris and Sam and Ella and Ranger and Eve and Elwood and Blue and Timmy and Amelia and Reggie.''

At the same time, I am sorry not to be able to stay and help. They sorely need it. And I've become somewhat useful since I know a lot of the tasks and can speak Spanish, which is not apparently a common skill among the Winter Texan volunteers. I love speaking Spanish--and I'm getting better. Where I used to simply avoid the subjunctive, and therefore not say it incorrectly, I'm starting to add it to my repertoire and it is fun!

I'll be back in March....seriously think I should just rent an apartment.....

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