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Help Me to Love Our Neighbors

$22,139 of $23,000 goal

Raised by 268 people in 11 months
UPDATE: Dallas will be receiving refugees from the border beginning this weekend! We are working now as an interfaith group to open a respite center to safely and comfortably get these families quickly on their way to their final destinations. Similar to the center in McAllen, these families will have just been released by CBP and will need help getting to their sponsors. As families are reunited and released by CBP, they're being left in the street with little more than the clothes on their back. This center will give them a shower, clothes, medicine, a bus ticket and love, to give them a better start on the journey to wherever in the country they'll be living and awaiting their next court date.

I'll use any money donated here to purchase clothes, diapers, food and other supplies needed by the families. Thanks so much for considering a donation!

Note: There's no way for me to start the GoFundMe amount raised back to $0 for this trip, but I spent $19.369 on the last two trips and follow-up purchases afterwards, so that's the new "$0".  Thanks!

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UPDATE: I'm going back to McAllen this Monday, November 5 to spend another week serving refugees at the Respite Center. As before, 100% of the funds I collect through this campaign will go to purchasing supplies for the center. I'm paying for all of my travel and personal expenses - no funds will go towards that. I'll post daily updates, itemized receipts and a report of everything spent like I did last time, so you can see exactly what your money helped to provide.  Thanks so much for considering a donation!

Note: There's no way for me to start the GoFundMe amount raised back to $0 for this trip, but I spent $12,255 on the last trip and follow-up purchases afterwards, so that's the new "$0".  Thanks!

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I'm driving to McAllen this Sunday, July 29 to spend a week working as a volunteer at the Humanitarian Respite Center  run by Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley. As families are reunited and released by CBP, they're being left in the street with little more than the clothes on their back. This center gives them a shower, clothes, medicine, a bus ticket and love, to give them a better start on the journey to wherever in the country they'll be living and awaiting their next court date.

I'll be working in the center translating Spanish and doing whatever else they need me to do. The center is overwhelmed, and as a result they run out of critical items every day. It may be women's shoes, or medicine, or kid's clothing, or bottled water. Would you consider donating some money so that in addition to working, I can help them to restock what's most urgently needed to serve our neighbors in need?

100% of the funds I collect through this campaign will go to purchasing supplies for the center. I'm paying for all of my travel and personal expenses - no funds will go towards that. I'll post itemized receipts so you can see exactly what your money helped to provide. 

Thanks so much for considering a donation! If you have any questions about the Respite Center, the situation on the border, or what I'll be doing, please send me an e-mail or text. I'll post updates from the border here (if I can) and on social media next week. #MoreLove
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Hi all!

This is just a quick update on the current status of the Dallas Respite Center.

We were originally anticipating 2 buses a week, but those have been suspended because El Paso's respite centers (run by Ruben Garcia) are no longer at or over capacity. They have even closed 2 of their 13 respite centers. This is a very quick shift, due to several developments:

1) Trump's recent deal with Mexico is having a faster impact than expected. Part of the deal is for Mexico to place militia along its southern border to prevent people from crossing. There are also more searches of buses moving through the country. This has been enacted before being presented to the Mexican legislature.

2) Mexican Protection Protocols (MPPs) are really being tightened up. This means that people who are reaching the MX-US border are being held on the Mexican side until it is "their turn", They are also being held in cages and fenced into corrals under bridges like we have seen in the news. This is currently being challenged in US courts.

3) The US is opening more detention centers. Three more have opened in the past few months. This means fewer people are being released with temporary status by CBP. More people are being sent to ICE detention centers. CBP is not releasing single adults and unaccompanied minors. Families with children are the only people being released by CBP right now and even in this situation, they are being held in CBP or ICE detention centers for far longer than our laws allow.

4) It's summer and there has always been a drop off when the temperatures go up.

All of these factors combined have resulted in a significant drop off in the number of people being released by CBP processing centers along our southern border. Dallas will remain on standby to help as soon as we're called on.

With that said, we're fully stocked in Dallas and not in need of anything else here . But, I'm continuing to work with the centers at the border, as well as with several families who have been recently released from detention. I'm also currently working with lawyers in California to try to get an 18-year kid (Edras) from Honduras out of detention, to come wait for his court date with his uncle in Fort Worth. I'll use your recent donations to help in many ways:

- Donations to feed and clothe the families at the Respite Center in McAllen, where I've worked in the past

- Helping with critical needs for families I know personally who have been released and are awaiting their court dates (doctors visits for their kids, helping with cell phone bills, school uniforms & school supplies for kids)

- Bus tickets for families who have been released from detention but whose sponsors can't afford them

If you made a recent donation expecting that it would be used only here in Dallas, I'm happy to refund that to you (let me know!) but please know that there's no shortage of refugee families with needs at the moment, and I'll keep flowing money to where it's needed most.

Please let me know if you have any questions! I appreciate all of you who have donated to this campaign. You have touched the lives of LOTS of people in need!
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A quick update! Thanks so much to all of you who donated recently in response to our start-up of a respite center in Dallas!

We're doing the same thing here as the center in McAllen where I've worked in the past. Families who have been released by Border Patrol to stay with relatives need clothes, food and help getting their bus tickets.

We started up with our first busload on June 8 and everything went well! We always need smaller sized jeans, because Central Americans (especially after traveling for weeks with little food) are much thinner and smaller than the average American. I used donations to buy $578 of small men's and women's jeans, a bunch of travel-sized deodorants and a ton of kids underwear. The receipt is here: https://photos.app.goo.gl/J2xgjqxj67MY5Ysa8

The Washington Post ended up creating an awesome 5-minute video about the start-up of our center. Please take a few minutes to watch it below! I have a few cameo appearances making signs and registering families as they arrived.

Video is here if you don´t see it below: https://youtu.be/ZOi-vGq-Qog

We're awaiting the next bus from El Paso and I'll use the unspent funds to fill holes in our clothing and cosmetics inventory as needed. Thanks again for your support!
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It's already time to head home... I feel like I should be writing a post that's a grand conclusion, but there's not really a grand conclusion. Families will keep arriving and the staff and volunteers will keep helping them.

I've met so many amazing people and heard so many stories. The majority of these families are no different than you or I: they're parents trying to do everything they can to give their kids the best life they can. They don't want to leave their countries; they love it there, if only it weren't so dangerous. Pray that somehow, some day, the situation in these countries improves.
If you'd like to come down here and volunteer, I can help you with that too!

I'll send an update with a detailed account soon detailing what I spent and how I will keep helping the Respite Center with any remaining funds.
Thank you all for your support, comments, prayers and donations!
New amigas Eleda & Agris from Guatemala
Yesterday's shopping list for me
Tons of supplies that you bought!
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The first photo is the sign at the door of the Respite Center. It’s the first thing the families see when they arrive. In some ways it’s ironic, because I guarantee you that if you visited the center, you wouldn’t use words like peaceful or restful to describe it! It’s honestly an assault on the senses, with way too many people crammed into a small space, babies crying, names and requests being yelled out. But for the families, it’s the first truly safe space they’ve been in a long time.

I’m sure you’ve heard that saying that love isn’t a feeling, it’s an action. Working here I’ve realized the same is true for the word “welcome”, and in fact welcoming is really really just loving someone who’s in a new situation. If you’re Christian, everything we’re doing here are those core commandments clearly laid out: Feed the hungry. Clothe the naked. Love your neighbor. And it happens day after day after day here.

I love hanging out with the families when they’re waiting at the bus station to depart. It’s much less chaotic, they’re generally happier, and there’s lot of time to talk. There are so many stories. Angelica, a 14-year old girl from Honduras was telling me about how many kids in her neighborhood had been killed and how, two months ago, they heard gunshots in front of their house and found her brother dead on the front porch. The gang members were still there and told her that she was going to be “their property” when she turned 15. Her dad, who traveled here with her, said “What else could I do?” She talked about all of that with almost no emotion, but then began to tell me about their trip to get here, about the guy in Mexico who took her phone and stole her earrings that had been a special gift from her mom, about a stretch of two days when they didn’t have any food at all, about another man along the way who called her a “whore” and said he would rape her, and by then she was crying and her dad was crying and I was crying. What can you even say to someone who’s been through something like that? I said “I’m so sorry”, and “I’m so proud of you for being so brave”, and “You’re safe now.”  I wish I could say “Don’t worry, you’re in the USA now, those things don’t happen here, and you’re going to work hard and study hard and make great lives for yourselves here.” Unfortunately there’s no way to know if that will happen. They’ll eventually have a date in immigration court to make their case for asylum, and that judge will decide if they can stay. In all honesty they may be deported. I can’t fathom how anyone could decide to send her back to be the property of that gang… I love meeting all of these amazing people but it’s so hard saying goodbye as they get on the bus, knowing I’ll never see them again and will never know exactly what happened to them. If you’re a praying person, please pray for Angelica and her dad, and for her mom and brother who are still in Honduras.

There are so many people passing through that I did a ton of shopping yesterday! Check the pictures for more details if you’re interested. Thanks to everyone who’s donated to the GoFundMe. I’m going to do my best to restock everything I can before leaving tomorrow but if have funds left over I’ll be calling down here next week to see what they need and helping to make that happen. Thanks for your support!
The sign at the door
2 days worth of ham & cheese
You bought lots of clothes!!
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$22,139 of $23,000 goal

Raised by 268 people in 11 months
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