AIM Team Connects with Center Families Through Service
We continue to be blessed by the constant flow of loving, giving people who leave the comforts of their own homes and travel to the Center to work one-on-one with our member families. Here, in her own words, Sara McNely reflects on her group's experience...
Our experience at the Working Boys' Center - A Family of Families in Quito, Ecuador was bittersweet. There was a true family welcome when our group arrived that was felt by all of us. Regardless of situation or status there was an undeniable sense of community between everyone who attended and/or volunteered at the center. We went there ready to work and serve but little did we know the work and service that was truly done was to us. Not only did we have the opportunity to tour and get to know the culture and life of the Ecuadorian people but we were astonished by the beauty of the country. We were surrounded by the beauty of the mountains all around us.
On the second day we were there, we joined the Mingas Program where we assisted in building a home for a family in the Center. They worked beside us and showed great appreciation throughout the day. However, one sentence was said by the mother of the family, Isabel , that embedded our hearts "Thank you for helping us. Please tell me where you live so that one day I can come help you with your home". If they only knew we never built our homes and most of us have never even thought about what it took to get them built.
When we went on house visits at the barrios we had the opportunity to see where the families at the Center live. We were heartbroken and speechless the majority of the day. The living conditions of some of the families are incomprehensible. This experience made us understand why the Center requires families to take a shower every day at the Center, why they provide three meals a day, and why it so essential that not only to educate the children but to educate the parents as well. This also made us appreciate the Center more than words could possibly explain.
We met families who just entered the program and we also met families who have been participating in the Center programs for years or have graduated and the difference in their quality of life was amazing. Madre Miguel, Madre Cindy and Padre Juan's love for the Center and the people is unmistakable. We loved watching the kids run up after Mass just to get a hug and blessing from Madre Miguel and Padre Juan. We felt honored to meet them and truly felt like we were in the presence of saints. This Center truly empowers the poor and treats them as equals by providing opportunities. We saw this every day we were there.
Every member of the Center contributes by taking turns cleaning up and serving meals. Families help one another build homes after working hard to save their money and buy land. Even the children contribute by working when they are not in school. This was hard for our group who is from the U.S. to understand but we quickly realized these kids benefit immensely from work when they are not in school. It keeps them out of trouble, supports their family who are in need of it, and it makes the children responsible which leads them to appreciate every coin earned.
Even the poor can waste money so the Center helps them realize the importance of saving what they can to improve their lives. Our parishes, St. James The Less and Holy Redeemer, in La Crescenta, CA would recommend that every parishioner visit The Working Boys' Center – A Family of Families because it is the only way to understand the impact it has on the participating families but also the impact it has you as a volunteer and visitor. The Center, children, families, and volunteers stole our hearts. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to serve this Center and be part of this Family of Families. The only we regret we had is not planning to stay longer but we will definitely be back!
Adults In Mission Team: Cynthia Ceja, Margaret Cooper, Jessica & Anita Gabrielian, Hugh & Kathryn Halford, Lynn Hansen, Dan Lee, Sara & Kevin McNely, and Hala Waneis