We gather to give thanks!

SFCS Coworkers sit down to have a Thanksgiving meal and share stories of gratitude

Sr. Cecilia Pham (middle) and coworkers gather to share a meal and stories of blessings and gratitude

Where can you find coworkers, who are Hispanic, Vietnamese, and Afghan, gathered to celebrate an American Thanksgiving? Here at St. Francis Community Services’ Southside Immigrant Services Center, where tamales and egg rolls lay alongside traditional dishes and everyone had an abundance of stories and blessings to relate …

For families who are migrating, Southside Center, 4222 Delor St., is a safe harbor, meeting immediate needs and helping rebuild lives broken by rough journeys.

“I know how hard it is for immigrants,” said Gul Fatehy, a translator and an Afghan refugee, who helps other refugees learn about Southside’s services in their own language. Two years ago, he and his family arrived in St. Louis to an unfamiliar lifestyle, with no home, and knowing no one. They now have a home and jobs, and he hopes soon to become a citizen. “We have a life again and can help others who come here,” he said. “I am thankful for this team [at Southside], for their focus on helping others.”

Sister Cecilia Pham, who oversees Southside’s Vietnamese Health Clinic, said she was blessed to serve her elderly clients at the Vietnamese Health Clinic and Vietnamese Elders Group. “I see them helping each other, encouraging each other to come, and making friends. It is a blessing to see.”

A coworker from St. Francis’ Pathways to Progress program, member advisor Debbie Koeller, echoed that and explained, “This work is certainly a calling for me. At Pathways, we have a phrase: ‘Look at God.’ We had a family who were searching for housing. We connected them with a landlord and shortly after their appointment, the mother got the call that they were approved. It’s a small miracle, because an approval does not always happen. The family was celebrating. At Pathways, I turned to a coworker and said, ‘Look at God.’”

We are grateful for this time to sit down and share a meal with coworkers from across our programs. We are most grateful for the ministry that you, our friends, make possible – a ministry of lovingly building up lives and communities. From all of us at St. Francis Community Services,

Happy Thanksgiving!