Last week, our Southside Immigration Services Center celebrated Christmas with over 300 clients.
“We wanted to create an atmosphere where our clients and their families felt welcomed,” stated Carlos Ruiz Martinez, Director of Immigration Services.
As they walked through the Christmas-colored balloon arch, each family was greeted by staff who checked them in and provided them with their dinner options — various homemade, authentic tamales, Haitian pork, fried plantains, and more. Family members entered the decorated gymnasium at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church and saw a station for a professional photo booth where families could pose in front of a Christmas-themed backdrop and retrieve a printout to take home.
In addition, there was a craft station lined with teenage volunteers where children could create ornaments, bracelets, and color beautiful photos. Some children could also be found entertained by the helium balloons decorating the tables or found gazing at the stage as women danced with strikingly colorful garments. Throughout the evening, families enjoyed the Hispanic dancers and musicians, as well as door prizes that ranged from gift cards to small kitchen appliances — all donated by generous donors in the community.
“My family has been continually blessed by St. Francis,” stated one mother. “It’s hard to describe what it means to have somewhere to go where they treat you like family!”