Have you ever been traveling overseas in a country where you did not speak the language and had your wallet lost or stolen? For most of us, it would be a very unpleasant situation. You don’t have money and you can’t communicate. It is really quite frightening.
For most Americans, however, the situation can be corrected within a day or two. We have friends, we have access to funds, renewed credit cards, etc., etc. What about a person coming to the United States with no knowledge of English, no money and no connections? That is the situation in which many immigrants find themselves. Who is going to help them?
Well, thankfully, the United States of America is filled with generous people who remember that their grandparents or great-grandparents were once in that position. They had to struggle and fight and save and pull themselves into stable situations where they could fall in love, marry, have children and pass on the wonderful gift of being able to live in the United States of America.
Happily, I am able to report in virtually every sizable city in the United States informal, nongovernmental facilities have been developed by generous, hard working people who understand the plight of the immigrant. One such facility is located here and operates under the title of Casa Marianella.
Casa Marianella is a haven and a safe place for male immigrants in which to help these new Americans settle in, learn English, get jobs, become citizens and be productive. Casa Marianella’s facilities are stark to say the least. It is crowded, somewhat disorderly due to that crowding but it provides an atmosphere of peace and comradeship to its guests, all of whom are urged to get out on their own as quickly as possible. The Casa has a wonderful staff of volunteers but the driving force in the delivery of its services is accomplished under the leadership of Jennifer Long. She has been at the Casa for about as long as I have been in Austin. She does a magnificent job and she and the Casa can always use help.
Jennifer and her co-workers can be reached at Casa Marianella, 821 Gunter Street, Austin, Texas 78702, (512) 385-5571, http://www.casamarianella.org/