Queens Woman to Volunteer at U.S.-Mexico Border

Tags: Currents, Border, Catholic Charities, Immigrants, Immigration, Lay Ministry, Mexico, Migration, Queens, NY, Religious Life, Volunteer Work

By Tim Harfmann

Melissa Gibilaro packed a box full of crayons and coloring books — items that might bring hope to young migrants after a long journey. “We don’t know what these people have gone through up to this point,” said Gibilaro.

She’s heading to the U.S.-Mexico border to help migrants who’ve fled their homelands in search of better lives. “People just want security and want a way to provide opportunities for their families,” Gibilaro said.

Starting December 27th, she’ll spend two weeks volunteering with Catholic Charities in McAllen, Texas, located 10 miles from the border. She’ll work with other volunteers at a respite center, a temporary shelter supplying asylum seekers with food, clothing and a place to shower. Hundreds of detained men, women and children arrive at the McAllen bus station every day, carrying their personal belongings in plastic bags.

Gibilaro wants to acknowledge their dignity. “I’m really hoping that we are providing that first real sign of welcome for them, helping them to get to their next destination and just being a kind face for them along this journey.”

Gibilaro works with the Sisters of Charity — Halifax at the order’s office in Rego Park, Queens and wants to put her Catholic faith into action. “Our faith teaches us to have hope, to be signs of hope. If we can give and restore a little bit of that to the people that we encounter, then I think we’ve done what we can in that moment.”

A sense of hope and cheer to begin the New Year.