Dancing, music, tamales, pupusas, words of gratitude and congratulations filled the air as over three hundred of our friends, families, and community leaders joined in celebrating a great milestone for Casa Chirilagua: the grand opening of our new community center!
Lara*, now a 9th grader, a former Kids Club participant and Bible study student leader, initiated the ribbon cutting ceremony by sharing her journey over the years, exclaiming,
“Casa for me is a home. The first place I run to when school and relationships get hard. It’s a place where I process the hard times. It’s [also] the first place I run to when something good happens. Casa is my oasis.”
As the crowd applauded Lara for her remarks, parents of our Kids Club students gathered their children in preparation for the Central American dances, performed by both kids, parents and one of our very own Casa staff members. As each group presented traditional dances from their cultures, guests got a sense of the rich array of diversity represented within our community. Alexandria’s Mayor Allison Silberberg put it best telling the crowd that Casa Chirilagua, “is drawn from a diverse community together from all walks of life.”
Among the distinguished crowd, there were representatives from the Embassies of Guatemala and El Salvador in Washington D.C., along with officers from Alexandria’s police force. The Mayor noted that,
“[Casa Chirilagua] is an incredible local non-profit that makes a tremendous difference in our city. Its success is rooted in a strong commitment to relationships, as well as a commitment to all of us who are neighbors, friends, family and a whole community.”
Guests explored Casa’s renovated space and visited the new classrooms, admiring the furnishings and Central American themed décor. Smiling faces greeted them as they were given brief guided tours of the community center presented by teens from the community. While the music played, friends and families enjoyed the locally-made tamales and pupusas, as well as a delectable catered meal, cookies and decorative cakes. A strong sense of community and common-purpose was noted by various guests and vendors. “It’s really cool….it feels like home,” remarked Martha*, a Kids Club student. These fruits were the result of all the hands who came together to make this event possible with their time, treasure and talents.
If you haven’t visited our new space, let us know and we’ll set up a time for you to come visit! Take it from Martha*,one of our 5th grade Kids Club students,
“Come to Casa Chirilagua and you’re gonna feel like [you’re at] home! This is a really good place.”
*Names changed to respect the privacy of the individuals