As you may know, Langley Park is a place in Prince George’s County where most of its inhabitants are Latino and from other parts of the world. The Sagrada Familia ministry has played a pivotal role for many years in the University Landing Apartments neighborhood and other surrounding buildings. During the new coronavirus, the community has been facing additional challenges and many have been deeply affected at all levels of daily life.
Due to the impact of the virus, we had to move all our existing programs online, to avoid the spread of the virus and try to keep the inhabitants as safe as possible. It was not easy to move everything online, because many of our kids did not know how to use Zoom and some of them did not have access to a device.
We have had our ESL classes online from Monday to Wednesday from 8:00 pm to 9:00 pm. This program helps our participants to learn the language and empower them to be more confident in a country where Spanish is not the first language. This also allows them to get better jobs and receive better pay than if they only spoke Spanish. The ESL students that come to the classes join right after they finish their jobs, many times. We have a variety of ages from teenagers, young adults, adults, etc. Sometimes the moms bring over their kids who help them as well during the classes.
Likewise, with ESL classes, many of the attendants were not able to access Zoom, because they did not have a computer or a smartphone and the internet access many times was not good.
We host after school programs on Wednesdays from 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. During this time, students practice reading and mathematics, complete their homework, and others find the space for playful activity through which the children also learn.
In this program when the kids are in the community room, we always give a snack, since many of the parents of these children are out working all day and the children do not eat when they return from school.
Lastly, we have the Caring Project in conjunction with the Campus Ministry of the University of Maryland on Thursdays from 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm. This program helps children, through volunteers from the University of Maryland, to develop their relationship skills and human abilities, so they learn mutual respect, affection, and the desire of each day to be better people in all areas of life.
Despite all efforts to continue helping our community, the virus has affected other realities of our people. Many of them lost their jobs, while others fell ill with the virus putting other family members at risk.
As a church, our first reaction was to help with food to guarantee the sustenance of the most vulnerable families during the pandemic. We were able to buy gift cards so that families could get what they needed.
In coordination with the Synod, the ELCA, CASA Maryland, the HumbleWalk Campus ministry of the University of Maryland and the local Megamart Supermarket, we delivered food throughout the neighborhood. There were 250 boxes of fresh produce, 600 bags of corn flour, 600 cans of beans, and mineral water.
We have also collected clothes and essential things that families may need, but which they cannot access due to their precarious economic situation.
Today, we continue to join forces with the prayers of all those who help and support this ministry in these difficult times so that we can share with Langley Park the grace and love of God that are often unknown.
Finally, we want to thank all those people who have helped us with their time, prayers and their financial support to continue giving hope and joy to so many siblings in Christ who are unknown to society but very loved by God.
God bless you with our prayers.