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Ministry in Action

by Cathy WilkinsCategory: Updates

Our lives are built around the common understanding that everyone deserves a life ofdignity. And, in the spirit of our motto Ut Vitam Habeant (that all may have life), our ministries are committed to caring for the vulnerable and marginalized.

Group picture of a number of sisters standing in front of car to be donated

This past Fall, the convent community realized that it had several cars that were no longer in use. The Area Council decided to see if they could be donated to individuals in need. Clare Horn, co-chair of the Extended Family and Immigration Task Force member, volunteered to find an organization that might take the cars. She connected with Hearts & Homes for Refugees in Pelham, New York – which proved to be a perfect fit.

Hearts & Homes for Refugees is a volunteer-driven nonprofit organization that works with U.S. Department of State-designated agencies to welcome refugees. They inspire, educate and equip others to resettle, assist and advocate for refugees. Working with a network of neighbors, community organizations, faith-based, student and civic groups, they offer safe and inclusive communities to our refugee neighbors and empower them to rebuild their lives with hope and dignity. The organization selected two refugees to receive the cars. They were presented to these individuals at the convent in October.

man sitting in driver's seat of gray car with door open

The first recipient (names are withheld to protect their privacy) is a former Special Immigrant Visa holder from Afghanistan who was visiting family in August 2021 when Kabul fell to the Taliban. He was able to bring his wife, her brother, and his own two brothers to safety in the U.S. They all stayed at a military base in New Mexico for several months as the family was processed. Hearts & Homes for Refugees took on their case when they left the camp in November 2021. They have been living in Yonkers for the past year where he commuted to work via public transportation. Upon receiving the car, not only is his work commute easier, but the car serves two important additional purposes for the family: to take his wife and their newborn baby to medical appointments; and, as transportation for his brother and brother-in-law to their jobs at a restaurant. (They had been biking back and forth to work, including late at night.)

left to right: man in black jacket and cap, Sr. Susan Gardella  and woman in brown jacket

The second recipient is a woman who arrived in the U.S. with her husband and their two teenage boys in February 2022, from Honduras. Honduran refugees, along with those coming from other countries including El Salvador, Venezuela, Nepal, Nicaragua and Haiti, have been granted Temporary Protected Status (TPS) by the U.S. due to conditions/circumstances preventing their safe return to their home country. This woman’s family had been targeted by gangs. While her husband could walk to his construction job in New Rochelle, she had a long late-night/early morning walk to her part- time job at a local store, and an expensive commute by train to her second part-time job in Harrison. They are excited and grateful for her safer and easier commute. Also, with a car, there is potential to earn extra income by taking on additional work at night, such as cleaning or meal delivery.

“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me…. Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” Mt 25:35, 40


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