Stories

Police Listening Session

This past month, members of the Chirilagua community had an opportunity to practice trust-building with members of the Alexandria Police Department. To connect with and understand the needs of our community, Chief Brown and a handful of other officers asked to come to our community center and meet with members of our community. Their hope was to listen and understand, making themselves available to the community and hear from our neighbors what they wanted to see in the neighborhood.

In many immigrant communities, lack of documentation and language barriers often deter families from engaging with officers if there is not a need to. 

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Casa Chirilagua Parent Committee

During the 2019–2020 school year, a group of 7 parents formed the Parent Committee. Their mission: to create unity among the Casa families and the community. They represent all the parents that have their Kids or Teens enrolled in Casa’s Programs. Since they are our advisors and eyes within the community, this group is one of the pillars of Casa Chirilagua. They help us to detect community needs and develop creative ideas on how to respond.

 Each woman on this committee has unique characteristics and personalities, and even though all are Latinas, they come from different backgrounds and places. Some of them come from indigenous communities in Guatemala and others have lived in the US for a long time. These women have shown a lot of courage in speaking up and sharing their insights. While for some this was new or uncomfortable because they at times find themselves in more male-dominated spaces, they spoke their minds about ideas they had and vulnerably recognized areas of opportunity for improvement.

 Last week we celebrated the one-year commitment they made to serve their community. We wanted to specifically thank and encourage them since they have been busy all year organizing and participating in different activities such as the 2019 Christmas Celebration, a socially distant Graduation Party for our 5th Graders, and some fundraising activities. And although this school year was unusual and different from previous years, they are optimistic and willing to keep serving the community. Pray that these women continue to find boldness and courage as they lead their families and community in vulnerability and in strength!

  – Liz Wang, Family Programs Director

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Adriana’s statement on the recent injustices

Dear Casa Chirilagua Community,

 
The news of the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and now George Floyd have left me heartbroken at the realization that more Black lives – individuals made in the image of God – have had their lives taken away in such violent ways here in the United States.

 
To me this is not a political or movement issue, it is a human issue. As a Christian organization which believes those who follow Jesus are His hands and feet in bringing His kingdom of peace here on earth, we cannot stay silent and we must be moved to action. Through prayer, the leading of the Holy Spirit and our Culture of Honor, I desire for Casa Chirilagua to always be a place where we can:

 

  • –Be courageous and vulnerable enough to have challenging conversations that will make us feel uncomfortable – yet need to happen

 

  • –Be trusting enough with one another with our confessions of repentance and willingness to forgive

 

  • –Be powerful enough to use our words and thoughts to build one another up, advocating for one another and not tear one another down

 

  • –Work together to ensure that every single person, especially those who are living under oppression, must and should flourish because we serve an abundant God who has designed us in His image to bring about His kingdom here on earth as it is in heaven

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Helping during COVID-19





 

Dear Casa Community,

 

Sadly, many adults and parents have lost their jobs due to the impact COVID-19 has had on our society. The biggest concern several families have communicated is paying rent and bills on time. The majority of Casa families live on or below the poverty line. This situation has added stress and concern to many families.

 

Here’s how you can support Casa Chirilagua families:

 

DONATE financially to Casa Chirilagua families in need who have been affected by COVID-19. All of these funds will directly help pay for their rent and/or utilities. Use this link to give via PayPal.

 

 

DONATE items to Casa Chirilagua families from this list. Read this list for instructions on how to donate items. These items are specific to what the community has expressed need for, we cannot accept other items at this time. We accept items on Mondays 10am–1pm and Thursday 1–4pm only.

 

 

PRAY for health and peace in our community. Our community is very dense and there are now several reported positive cases of COVID-19 in Chirilagua.

 

SUPPORT Casa ChirilaguaYour support ensures we can continue providing vital emergency aid to Casa families and continue our online programs..

 

During this social distancing time, our mission remains the same: developing relationships with families to see the Chirilagua neighborhood transformed by Christ. Our strong and talented staff team have been finding creative ways to stay connected to families and one another during this time.

 

We will continually edit this page with updates. Subscribe to our eNewsletter to get regular updates.

 

 


 

UPDATE | May 11

 

Thanks to our partnership with Neighborhood Health, our parking lot has turned into a COVID-19 testing site. Sadly, our last numbers from them indicate that over 40% of tests have been coming back positive for the virus. With each positive case they are following up with patients to provide recommendations for next steps. It is very tough for those living in apartments and working essential jobs to isolate themselves, and the risk of losing their jobs is also a large concern.

We’ve distributed a total of $28,000 on behalf of Casa families to help pay for vital living expenses and every week we deliver 30 bags of groceries to families in need. We’ve also partnered with World Central Kitchen and they delivered 2,000 hot and delicious meals to our neighbors in the Chirilagua community.

We are floored by the generosity we have seen from you. It’s a beautiful thing to be a part of this community of individuals, church partners and fellow collaborators who are making it possible for us to love our neighbors during COVID-19.

 

Among them, we would like to thank the Del Ray Citizen’s Association for their gift of $2,500 which went directly to our fund supporting families who have been affected by COVID-19:

 

“We wanted to really do something major and significant to help with on COVID-19 relief for the charities in this area,” DRCA President Virginia Bush said at the meeting. “This is an unprecedented threat to our community, and I think it’s really important that we do everything we can to support the people who are losing their jobs, losing their businesses and losing their homes as much as we can.”

 

Casa Chirilagua has also been in the news on TV and online lately. Check out the stories below highlighting the work we’ve been doing:

 

 

 

 

 


 

UPDATE | April 13

 

We have now paid out close to $25,000 in rent and/or utilities on behalf of 31 families. We will continue to respond to new and existing needs as best as we can. In addition to financial support, we have begun providing material support and resources to members of the community who have tested positive for COVID-19. Beginning Wednesday, April 15th Neighborhood Health will begin providing testing for community members from the parking lot of Casa Chirilagua.

A week ago I drove through the neighborhood dropping off checks to make families’ rent payments. As I was sitting in my car finishing up a few details I saw one of our students, Jenny, walk by with her earbuds on. I’ve known Jenny since she was in 3rd grade and now she’s in 9th.


I rolled down my window and called her name. “Ms. Adriana!” she exclaimed. I shared how glad I am to see her even though we’re not able to hug, which is the usual way we greet each other. We started catching up, at a distance of course, and were reflecting on how everything has changed.

“It’s weird. There’s no more school. We’re mostly just home,” Jenny said. It was hard to offer words of encouragement because so much had changed for me, too. As we continued to catch up I made sure to say, “If you all need anything, please don’t hesitate to call me.”

We said our goodbyes and the next day her mother calls me. I asked her if Jenny mentioned to her how we saw one another, “Yes, it’s the first thing she said when she got home.” She began to share her concerns and needs. She went on to share that financially they’re not able to pay for one of their bills. I asked her to send me their bill and assured her that we would be able to cover this for them.

This family has been a part of Casa Chirilagua for over five years and because of this longevity, they’re able to call me without hesitation and share what their needs are. Thankfully we’re able to respond through the many donations you all have given Casa to meet these needs. Despite the difficult situation COVID-19 has put families in, God is able to point families to hope and support through Casa Chirilagua.

 


 

UPDATE | April 4

 

We continue to see God’s faithfulness to Casa families through YOU. We are still receiving much-needed donations from many of you to help pay for rent and utilities for families affected by COVID-19. To date we’ve raised almost $32,000. Praise be to God!

Our staff has been collecting stories of gratitude from families who have received much needed financial support. Read the letter below from a mother expressing her gratitude to so many of you:

 

I want to thank first and foremost God for putting angels in my path. Thanks to these angels, today I am able to stay calm amidst a lot of worry, since I am without work due to COVID-19. I want to thank every person from the bottom of my heart for helping me in this most difficult time of my life. Thanks to you, I am more at peace today because you helped me pay for my rent this month. With all my heart, thank you and may God bless you always. Thank you.

 

Together, we are loving our neighbors during COVID-19. We intend to keep loving our neighbors and walk alongside them through the end of this crisis – whenever that will be.

 


 

UPDATE | March 27

 

Watch the video update below, and read this week’s eNewsletter for updates and photos.

 

 


 

UPDATE | March 20

 

To date, Casa Chirilagua has responded in the following ways:

 

CONNECTING WITH FAMILIES Staff are regularly calling each Casa family to check in with them. We are asking what their needs are, connecting them to resources and praying with them.

 

STUDENT SUPPORT The Youth Programs Team is currently putting together learning packets as well as a virtual learning center for our Kids Club and Teens Club students. Our Yo Hablo Ingles adult ELL classes have also moved online.

 

FOOD Our church partner Grace Community Church connected us with two Chick-Fil-A owners who have been donating hundreds of sandwiches to our community. See our Facebook and Instagram posts.

 

CLOSURES For everyone’s safety, our community center will remain closed and our programs will remain virtual until further notice.

 


 

I pray you and your loved ones are staying safe and healthy as we all work through this together. At Casa, we believe the Lord has given us a spirit of Love and Power — not of fear. We will continue preparing and putting a prevention plan in place, however we are choosing to cling to God’s peace and saying NO to fear. We pray the Lord will pour His peace and love over each and every one of you during this time.

 

In hope,
Adriana Gómez Schellhaas
Executive Director

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