Remember Dorothy Gayle chanting the words, “There’s no place like home” in her effort to get back to Auntie Em in Kansas? Or how about Perry Como crooning, “There’s no place like home for the holidays.” These iconic home-themed messages easily find their way into our memory because they strike at something dear to everyone—belonging.
Currently, more than 281 million people on earth are displaced and looking for a place to belong, a place to call home. Many are forced to flee due to drought, violence, famine, flooding, war, or poverty. What would any of us do if faced with one or often, several of these factors?
The media continues to share and sensationalize the breaking news that long lines of migrants are trying to enter the United States at the border of Mexico. Headlines such as “Surge at the Border” or “Thousands of Migrants Overwhelm El Paso” fill many Americans with fear. What can be done? The Dominican Sisters of Sparkill continue to educate and welcome immigrants and children of immigrants in their programs and schools, providing a path to success. Here are some of the ways the Sisters and Associates are responding to this great need.
This past semester One to One Learning, led by Sister Cecelia LaPietra, has added an additional 200 students to their roster. Sister Maureen Conway reports that each week an extra 10-12 students arrive. Each student is seen as a person and not a statistic and they are taught English and provided with connections to resources and services. Most importantly, they are welcomed to a safe place of belonging.
Associate Frank Cappadona and Sister Pat Hogan are actively helping recent refugees from Afghanistan to Rockland County through the Hearts and Homes for Refugees Program. They worked to refurbish a new home and provide ongoing support as well as rides to One-to-One Learning to help meet needs of these newcomers.
Always on the move, Sister Margaret O’Doherty is busily collecting toys, clothing, supplies, and gifts for the immigrant families that she works with through the Marydell Catechesis of the Good Shepherd Program. Most of the families Sister Margaret works with are Ecuadorian and speak only their native tongue. The participants are able to support each other in their education and form a caring community.
Sisters, Associates, and ministry partners are also helping to collect toys, gifts, and food cards for families in need who attend One to One Learning and Sister Margaret’s program. Additionally, when Sister Bernadette Nonnon visits our Sisters at Tolstoy Nursing Home she stops and prays with Jose. Jose is the father of one of Sister Margaret’s children who fell off a scaffolding and almost died. Sr. Margaret was with the family every step of the way, frequently visiting him in the Westchester Medical Center.
It has been said that “Home is where the heart is.” The Dominican Sisters and Associates of Sparkill are wholeheartedly creating a home for our new citizens. As Sister Maureen Conway shared, the Sisters feel blessed to know these people. She said, “They are so inspiring, their work ethic, their kindness, and their gratitude. These are people who want to work. They have lost so much and want their children to have what everyone wants—a place to call home.”