Room for Rent

Aug 13, 2009

One afternoon while Rachel and Dawnielle were cleaning the kitchen, they heard a shuffling on the back deck. Dawnielle peeked out the back door and found 11 year old Fernando sitting on the patio chair. She asked him if he’d like to come in and get some help with his homework, to which he replied, “Yes.” He sat at the kitchen table working on number sentences and exponents but seemed distracted. He looked up and said, “Ms. D, I’ve been better at school this week. I’ve been listening and I haven’t been getting into as much trouble. I also started using my moment of silence to pray and that really helps me focus for the day.” Dawnielle smiled and encouraged him to keep up the good habits. With a little prompting, he continued working on his homework.

Upon completion of his math problems, he looked up again. “Ms. D, do you by any chance know someone who has a room for rent.” “No, I don’t,” she replied. “Why do you ask?” He responded, “We’re getting kicked out of the living room we live in on September 9th. The brother of the guy who has the apartment is coming and he says he needs the space. I keep trying to tell my mom that the shelter won’t be that bad. The school social worker says that she can arrange a bus to pick me up and take me to school but Mom doesn’t listen.”

His words were heart wrenching, especially since this was the second time the issue had come up in a matter of months and the last time it occurred Emily worked tirelessly, exhausting all known avenues to ensure they had a safe place to live. Dawnielle asked him if he wanted to pray. He nodded his head, and they prayed for God to provide a safe place for his family to live.

When we see a need at Casa Chirilagua, we hope that our first response is to take it to the Lord in prayer. When we do, miraculous things happen. Sometimes manna falls from heaven and other times the miracle is a change of heart that helps us discover we are being called to be a part of the answer. This story will not stop with a prayer. It will continue on with many more. Perhaps we must ask God if we should open our home or perhaps he will prompt someone else to open theirs. Perhaps that prayer will begin conversations with the school social worker or motivate people of the local church to get involved by showing Christ’s love in a tangible way. We don’t know how the Lord will move but we know we must start somewhere and that “somewhere” is one more step along our journey of Learning Together to Love Our Neighbors as Ourselves.

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.