Volunteers help monastery run with more migrants dropped off every day

Training for monastery volunteers, helping migrants staying in Tucson

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - With little to no notice, men, women and children walk off buses at the Benedictine Monastery nearly everyday.

Kat Rodriguez, an organizer with Casas Alitas, said the main drop-off location for Border Patrol and ICE is at the monastery off Country Club Road. Sometimes, they know what to expect in size and family structure, at other times, it can be a scramble when migrants show up.

“Volunteers are basically the life blood of the monastery," said Rodriguez.

Rodriguez told a room of volunteers Tuesday night there can be around 300 asylum-seeking migrants or more, at any given time at the Benedictine Monastery. The goal is to have around 200 or 220, at most.

Those who stop at the monastery are often hungry and looking for a safe place to stay on their journey. Rodriguez told the volunteers they would be tasked with making the migrants feel like they are in a secure location.

“Scary, they’re completely fatigued by their travel, by the hardships they faced coming form their homeland," said David Henderson. "Their health has been affected, their emotions have very much been impacted.”

Henderson moved to Tucson a year ago, but is no stranger to volunteer work. After seeing the news of the migrants and the Casas Alitas program, he reached out to help with the community.

“It’s just a great service to help them not be anxious. Just calm them down, give them some medical treatment, food, rest," said Henderson.

Rodriguez said there are about 100 volunteers at the monastery every day to help with the heavy load. She said Casas Alitas and Catholic Community Services are seeing more people volunteering their time, but ‘registering’ the migrants takes a few more requirements.

The training Tuesday night was for the intake process at the monastery. The volunteers are responsible for collecting information from paperwork from Border Patrol and ICE, as well as checking medical records and helping migrants with travel plans.

“The monastery runs on volunteers. People giving their time, their energy, their space and their skills," said Rodriguez.

The migrants may be moved to other shelter locations or churches in Tucson or they will stay at the monastery. Rodriguez said on average, most are at the monastery for two days.

“It’s a machine that does not operate without volunteers," Rodriguez said.

The good news for Rodriguez, her call for help is being answered in larger numbers. She said Tuesday’s training session had nearly triple the number of volunteers as her first session.

“There’s plenty of ways to help and it just does you, it makes you feel good that you are doing something to serve," said Henderson.

The Ward 6 and the Ward 1 Tucson city council offices are also collecting donations which are then dropped off at the monastery.

The Ward 6 office is at 3202 E. First Street, while the Ward 1 office is 940 W. Alameda Street.

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