Migrants give back to newly arrived asylum seekers at New York church

Migrants who have been in the US for several months returned the generosity shown to them upon arrival by serving food to newcomers seeking asylum at a church in Brooklyn on Tuesday.

“I didn’t want to just come and take. I wanted to give something back,” said Michael Corros, a father who fled Venezuela with his young family and arrived in New York two months ago. “I feel like a human being. I do something for the help I get.”

Corros, 26, and his partner Georgina Paredes, 24, came to Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Bay Ridge to help distribute hot meals and get clothes for their two daughters, ages 5 and 3.

The family spent three months walking through Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala and Mexico to get to the United States after their home was destroyed by floods.

“Our house collapsed because of the floods and the economy was bad,” Corros said in Spanish. “We had to move out of the house, into the country … in search of a better future for our children.”

Rev. Juan Carlos Ruiz walks with Venezuelan family Georgina Parades, Michael Corros and their two daughters Keyle and Kata.
Rev. Juan Carlos Ruiz walks with Venezuelan family Georgina Parades, Michael Corros and their two daughters Keyle and Kata.
Paul Martinka
Two young girls eat apples.
Keyle, 5, and Kata, 3, ate apples at church while their father helped distribute food.
Paul Martinka

Paredes added that they’ve been teaching their daughters, Keyle and Kata, to say “thank you” since they crossed the line.

“We don’t take that for granted,” she said as they left with bags full of clothes and toys for the girls. “We’ll be back on Sunday!”

Rev. Juan Carlos Ruiz, who has pastored Good Shepherd Lutheran Church for the past four years, said the congregation serves as a resource center for between 50 and 100 migrants daily from all five districts.

Even newcomers come to the Good Shepherd if they cannot find a place to stay and sleep in the church right away.

“You have people who are being displaced and have been away for months… they need a safe place. They come to a church,” said Ruiz, 52. “It gives them a sense of family and community and a place to pray in their language.”

The church provides the asylum seekers with hot meals, takeaway food, clothing, toys, toiletries and other necessities.

A load of groceries is unloaded in front of the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Bay Ridge.
According to the pastor, the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church serves between 50 and 100 migrants every day.
Paul Martinka
People unload groceries from a truck.
Asylum seekers said others, whose shoes they wore just a few months ago, feel fine.
Paul Martinka

The pastor, originally from Mexico, said the migrants come from many different countries in Latin America to work and improve their lives and those of their children. Many come from Venezuela.

“They want to help themselves, but they also want to help others,” Ruiz said. “They are grateful for what is being done for them, so they want to serve and give back to the community.”

When Luis Alberto Moreira, 42, arrived in New York two months ago with his wife and son from Ecuador, they asked the Good Shepherd for help.

“When I came here, I came into the church and the priest helped me out,” he said in Spanish. “He gave me and my family clothes and food.”

Moreira distributed food to other newly arrived migrants and parishioners at the Bay Ridge church on Tuesday.

“I wanted to give something back. I come four times a month to volunteer,” he said, adding that it made him feel good.

Rev. Juan Carlos Ruiz with Jacky Rivera from Peru who cooked a hot meal for hungry migrants.
Rev. Juan Carlos Ruiz with Jacky Rivera from Peru who cooked a hot meal for hungry migrants.
Paul Martinka
Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Bay Ridge
Many of the migrants who volunteered wanted to come back over the weekend to help again.
Paul Martinka

Another family – still working to get on their own after moving to the US from Peru just over two weeks ago – volunteered their time and cooking skills.

Jacky Rivera, 52, cooked braised chicken and rice and served it to other migrants while her husband Tulio Asmad, 50, helped unload supplies from a truck and their 27-year-old son organized bookshelves at the church.

Asmad said he heard from a friend what the Good Shepherd was doing and decided to come out to help and get away from the tiny Manhattan hotel room where they are staying.

“I really enjoy cooking. I saw the need and took action,” Rivera said in Spanish. “It’s like reciprocity. I’m grateful for the opportunity to come here with my family… and the best way to give back is , to serve.”

Moreira, the Ecuadorian migrant, said he plans to volunteer his time as much as possible.

“I will continue to come whenever I can. If not here, I’m in the Bronx, Queens,” he said, giving a thumbs-up. “I can never forget the help I get. I know that God will bless me in this.”

https://nypost.com/2022/12/20/migrants-give-back-to-newly-arrived-asylum-seekers-at-nyc-church/ Migrants give back to newly arrived asylum seekers at New York church

JACLYN DIAZ

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