“It’s about community,” said Chaplain (Maj.) Luis Garayua.
That was the sentiment that spurred volunteer support for Families that have been temporarily displaced from their homes for life, health and safety repairs, such as mold mitigation. Ashley Fischer, Displaced Family Liaison, Belvoir Housing Advocacy Group, had been displaced herself for six weeks, and that made her realize the need to see what the other Families needed, and to be there as a support system. Even when living in quarters with a kitchenette, Fischer said Family dinners can be challenging.
“You don’t remember to pack spices, and sometimes you leave all your groceries at the house when you’re told you have to leave in a couple hours, that’s the last thing you think of,” she said.
Fischer thought it would be nice for everyone to get together and create some community, so she asked Chaplain (Maj.) Luis Garayua, Woodlawn Chapel’s community pastor, for help.
“This is something, as a chapel community, that we can take ownership of and show support,” Garayua said.
The Catholic Women of the Chapel and Knights of Columbus offered to serve the meals and visit with the Families for the evening. Half of the chapel was set up for dining, and the other half was set up for the kids to run around and watch movies after dinner.
“This lets the adults have time to share with one another, and build that resilience that is so important in a time of stress,” said Garayua.
Nathaniel Mack, a scout with Troop 2501, brought an unexpected surprise to the evening. For his community scouting badge, he decided to help, when he learned that one of his friends had been displaced.
“I made flyers asking people if they wanted to donate books or board games for the Families to enjoy,” said Mack.
His outreach provided about 40 books and games for the Families to take with them when they left that evening.
Because of volunteer outreach, this community dinner will be a monthly event at Woodlawn Chapel.