Sunday, February 3, 2019

McAllen Feb Update

Heading back to McAllen in mid-February...a friend there likens it to an addictive drug and she's right. To see what needs doing (organizing and training!) and to be capable at it, while also helping desperate and lost people, just kicks in the adrenaline. And realizing that I am slowly losing my eyesight, the desire to go is even more pressing.

The Humanitarian Respite Center moved late last November/early December into a larger facility, that had been a nursing home. It had an industrial kitchen, fenced in areas to play, multiple rooms for people and donations, and a nice central area for conferring. But now there are apparently some zoning issues. It's located in a residential area, though there is really nothing visible to the neighborhood. All is indoors or out back. Near the back, but behind greenery, is a trailer park inhabited by "winter Texams". And there's a high school a few blocks away.

Apparently the neighborhood is complaining to the city council. While the city was happy to have Catholic Charities care for the asylum seekers, thus keeping them out of the bus station and off the streets, they are now looking at zoning issues and putting pressure on the center. No grandfather clause available?

How will the city resolve this dilemma? Will they find and offer a different location, of which I suspect there are few? The Center had an open house for the neighbors: no one came. If there were to be a hearing of some sort, perhaps explaining ALL the details would help. Or are people still really so "not inn my backyard" that they would deny these refugees? If people understood the needs of the people and the center, might attitudes change? Perhaps Catholic Charities needs to line up its supporters and get the word out....

Regardless, I will be there in mid-February, at the current location or a new one (since we will NOT stop doing the right thing), and will send updates from there.

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