Articles - A shelter to 'come, rest, and move forward,' Translation of La Opinion Article


A shelter to ‘come, rest, and move forward’
by Carolina Martin
La Opinion, Saturday, March 8, 2014

Three generations of strong women, - her mother, who helped her move ahead; her grandmother who ran businesses in Mexico to feed her seven children and her great-grandmother who was known as “the teacher” because she would teach people how to read and write in 1900 – are  Raquel Roman’s daily inspiration.

This 33 year old Chicana – as she self-identifies -, started more than a decade ago to work as a volunteer for the church La Placita and to help the needy. “I noticed that there was something in me to work in the nonprofit sector”, she comments after going through the different organizations in which she’s worked. When she went into Proyecto Pastoral, she became the director of the center Guadalupe homeless, “a shelter for undocumented immigrants” which has converted into a sanctuary after 25 years.

Although it is supposedly a center for “emergencies”, Roman has decided to take it to another level. “We facilitate English classes and the tools necessary so that they can be successful in society” she says with much enthusiasm.

One of her passions is helping the people, that’s why she celebrates when people leave the shelter. Roman has been witness to various interesting cases.

“When someone gives them a  hand, they come out of the shadows”, she highlights. The shelter is “a starting point, a family. They come, rest and move forward”.

Impatient with the will to keep building a better community, Roman went back to the university to complete her studies which she had to leave in the past.

“Officially I graduated in December of 2013 with Chicano Studies in a specialty in Women’s Studies”, she says. (California State University, Northridge)

This return to the books was not casual.

Two years ago she started a cooperative for women to prepare meals for events. It’s like “my baby and now I have to pass to the next phase”. This project has given the women an opportunity to have work experience and provide for their families.

Working in a nonprofit organization, Roman is very clear on what her dream is: “that the shelter is no longer needed”. However, a dose of reality lets her set her number one priority: immigration reform. Then, she says, affordable housing. 

Translation:  Ruth Luna, Proyecto Pastoral at Dolores Mission