Yubelly Perez, MRC Board Member
Last night I was talking with one of the volunteers and he asked me how long I’ve been volunteering at MRC… I started to think and at that moment I realized it has been over a year!
I remember we used to host our MRC programs on Thursday night at the YMCA on North Lamar. We had a small room where we used to have sewing, computer and job skills classes at the same time. Week by week the space was becoming smaller and crowed, each Thursday night we had more and more participants waiting to use the sewing machine or one of the 5 computers available for us.
We realized it was time to look for a bigger place and move on. Thanks to Foundation Communities we found out we could use the community center at Trails at Vintage Creek twice a week to host our programs. It was a big change for us–to move to a center and have an additional day to help the participants. Our concern at that moment was losing some of them, because they would have to take two bus routes instead of one or they couldn’t walk from their homes to the center.
We were anxious about what will happen next. It was a slow transition for them and for us; we were in need of more volunteers, sewing machines, and other supplies. We started to advertise more of our programs and each Thursday and Saturday we had new people coming over to sign up for one of the classes. Unfortunately some of the participants that live in the North Lamar area couldn’t make it over to the new place, but at the same time we started to see people that could not be reached before.
Almost one year after, MRC’s programs have grown. A formal computer class is being taught every Saturday thanks to a City of Austin grant awarded to MRC; more sewing machines have been donated to us and the room downstairs hosts the Sewing class on Saturday; the children’s program helps the refugee kids with their homework and the volunteers take care of them while their parents apply for jobs or are in one of the classes; Thursday night one of the Iraqi refugees teaches other refugees to crochet, and we have been able to host workshops and dialog group sessions every month.
What is next in our wish list? To have a place we can call home and host our programs every day. To have employment specialists dedicated to helping our participants look for a job, a tailor shop where the participants can create and design. To have a place to host workshops and informative sessions for refugees who are looking for a new career and to have the doors always open for the participants who are still struggling and need and advice or someone who can listen to them.
I’ve been only with MRC a year and I’ve seen so many changes, imagine what Paul and Johnson have seen since the moment they decided to found MRC when they were thinking of having a place for reconciliation and congregation for refugees from all over the world.
You can help us make our wish list come true, visit our website www.mrcaustin.org and see how can you donate or become a volunteer, maybe in one year you will be the one writing what has happen in the next 12 months.