By Marv Knox
Immigrant families in Central Texas have roofs over their heads, food on their tables and utilities in their homes, thanks to La Puerta Waco and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship’s Coronavirus Emergency Relief Fund.
CBF established the coronavirus fund shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic began inflicting its wrath globally. The catastrophe particularly harmed immigrants, who live closest to their communities’ crumbling edges of vulnerability. In the United States, for example, many immigrants were the first to lose their jobs when the economy restricted. And although they pay taxes, they were not eligible to receive stimulus checks provided to citizens.
CBF initially collected almost $65,000 for the fund and added $15,000 from its Hunger Relief Fund to distribute $79,750 through CBF Global Missions, CBF Latino Fellowship, Together for Hope and Fellowship Southwest.
A $5,000 grant—part of a gift provided to Fellowship Southwest by CBF of North Carolina and N.C.-based field personnel Kim and Marc Wyatt—to La Puerta Waco has eased the burden of more than 50 immigrant families, reported Director Israel Loachamin.
La Puerta Waco is a faith-based ministry located at First Baptist Church of Waco. It supports the Hispanic community, providing programs that place a priority o family support, life-skills training and technology in a Christian environment. Loachamin is the church’s associate pastor of Spanish ministry and a CBF Fellow. La Puerta is a partner in Fellowship Southwest’s regional network and also participates in CBF Advocacy initiatives.
La Puerta divided its grant in half, Loachamin said, with $2,500 supporting its food pantry and $2,500 providing utilities and rent support.
“Each week, our family resource pantry feeds over 50 families in the Waco community,” he explained. “We work closely with local nonprofits and schools to identify families who are most at risk. Each family receives a food bag with items like bread, peanut butter, jelly, pasta, canned vegetables and fruits, cereal and granola bars, along with a bag of household items, like dish soap, detergent, shampoo, soap, toilet paper, feminine products and toothpaste.
“A rotating team of about 25 volunteers helps make this happen each week, not to mention seven churches that generously donate the supplies. We are so thankful for the grant money, which has made all this possible.”
La Puerta also distributed grants to help on-the-edge immigrant families stay housed and protected.
For example, the coronavirus fund helped Aide and her family with rent, Loachamin said. Aide, who taught primary school in Mexico, and her family “came to the U.S. looking for better days” five years ago, he noted. “Her husband, Juan, works in construction, and there is no way they could fix is immigration status. They are incredibly happy to receive financial support to pay their rent.”
Similarly, the coronavirus fund has kept Daniel and Delia from being evicted. “They are happy to be able to have economic relief, since Daniel cannot work because he is an immigrant,” Loachamin reported, adding Delia is a student. “They are praying to God to see what next steps to take.”
Several families also sent words of thanks for the grants that enabled them to keep their utilities turned on:
• “We are thankful for the help we have received through y’all during this time. Thank you for blessing us, and I pray that God will bless you tremendously.” — Vianey and Julio Botello, whose water bill was paid
• “Hello, we want to thank you who helped us in this difficult time. God bless you, and thank you much for everything.” — Pedro Tinoco and Reyna Cabrera, whose gas bill was covered
• “We are incredibly grateful for this financial help. I have been out of work and didn’t know how to pay. Thank you.” — Faviola Rubi and her daughters, whose electricity bill was paid
If you would like to contribute to CBF’s Coronavirus Emergency Relief Fund, click here.
Marv Knox is coordinator of Fellowship Southwest.