From Sisters Maureen, Ines and Mary
The possibility of an Immokalee Tour was presented at the recent RSHM Alumnae luncheon held in Naples, Florida. This past Monday a very interested group of nine people who winter in Florida, including one alumna from Park Terrace, one from MMC, one from Rolling Meadows and their friends arrived on a warm, sunny morning. With Maureen as our trusty guide and Ines and Mary helping to chauffeur we drove past places important in the lives of farm workers. At certain stops we gathered to have Maureen explain what we had seen or what we were about to see. Sr. Maureen has more than 35 years of living and working here as an immigration attorney. Her past membership on the boards of many non-profit ventures and personal stories of some clients brought to life the early beginnings and improvements in child care, education, health care, labor practices and housing.
Some highlights included a tour of RCMA (Redlands Christian Migrant Association) which provides daycare for the children of migrants and low income families (starting at six weeks old), a preschool and kindergarten program, and a charter school for children up to sixth grade. All classes are fully bilingual and provide services from 6:45 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The tour of Catholic Charities Guadalupe Social Services which ministers to the poor and homeless population includes a food pantry, soup kitchen, clothing room, shower program, ESL classes and counseling services. The new and spacious Guadalupe Church was designed and furnished to reflect the Mexican, Guatemalan and Haitian cultures of the parishioners.
The tour ended with a delicious Mexican lunch at Mi Ranchito Restaurant amidst lively conversations, questions and feedback from the group. Since there was not sufficient time nor energy to visit the remaining sites, Maureen offered to have the second part next year.
PS: Thanks to Maureen Hussey Callanan, SHM Park Terrace ’55 for suggesting and promoting the visit to Immokalee.