A Student’s Patience

Dec 13, 2018

On a cold, grey December afternoon, Katherine stood bundled-up and waiting at the bus stop for her remaining Kid’s Club friends to arrive. Puzzled, she turned to Mr. Jose – Casa Chirilagua’s mentoring director – and she asked, “So, the event on Saturday is going to be only for us mentees, right?”


Mr. Jose looked at her and said, “Yes that’s right, and actually our mentors will be there too. Are you excited?”


Katherine’s face lit up and stammered, “Yeah! Can my mom and little brother come?”


“Sure thing, they can come over,” replied Mr. Jose as he watched her big smile grow, stretching from ear to ear.


After the bus dropped off the remaining students, Mr. Jose escorted the students to the community center. As he walked with the students, he overheard Katherine asking some of her friends if they were going to attend the Mentor Christmas Craft party on Saturday. Some of the students weren’t yet aware of the event, while other students heard Katherine’s contagious excitement and decided they wanted to join in.


Katherine had been on the Mentoring Program’s waitlist for several months, waiting for the opportunity to have an adult mentor matched with her. Back in May she even asked for a mentor via a video on Casa’s social media channels. Finally, her patience was rewarded when she was matched with her new mentor this past November!


They have since built a special bond over arts and crafts, which was evident at the craft party. As Katherine sat with her family across from her mentor, they collectively came together to create handprint Christmas trees. The trees were made of upcycled material to be used as centerpieces for the annual Casa Chirilagua Christmas Celebration. Mentors and mentees created the craft projects with ease, all the while enjoying holiday themed cookies and games to the tune of seasonal sing-alongs.


During the gathering Katherine shot her hand up in the air, looking at Mr. Jose, signaling him to come over. She asked, “Can I take my Christmas tree home with me?”


“Yes you can take it home with you, but only after the Christmas Celebration next week. We are going to use these as our table decorations,” Mr. Jose answered.


She reluctantly looked at him and said, “What if someone else takes our tree?”


“How about this – when you come to the celebration next week, you can sit at the table that has your tree on it. How does that sound?” asked Mr. Jose.


Her face lit up once again, “Okay! Plus, my mentor is going to bring her family to the celebration next week so we can all see the tree!” She then turned her attention to the tree, carefully pasting ornaments in a symmetrical fashion.


In this season Katherine has seen her relationship with her new mentor grow deeper while her family’s bond becomes stronger. Her patience was rewarded when she received a mentor, and will be once again after she brings her beautiful tree home. Although the handprint Christmas trees were fun to create, it was the rooted relationship-building that we hope makes this event an extra special memory for them.


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We are a community of people “learning together to love our neighbors as ourselves” in a Latino neighborhood in Alexandria, Virginia.

As a faith-based Christian non-profit with a small staff and over 100 volunteers, we serve alongside more than 100 families and their children (1st-12th grades) each week through our community programs.

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Our relational network of volunteers and donors reflects a diverse group of individuals from all over the Washington, D.C. metro area. As a non-profit, we rely on the community for assisting program directors on-site, being mentors, supplying the needs of our food pantry, and everything in between. Each member of our Casa community holds a unique gift, whether time, talent or treasure.