Volunteers now needed around-the-clock at Freeman Coliseum Expo Hall to help with migrant youths

Experience so far emotional and worthwhile, volunteers say

SAN ANTONIO – Now that the number of migrant youths at the Freeman Coliseum Expo Hall has doubled in less than a week, Catholic Charities will have to provide 24-hour volunteer support, said Tara Ford, a spokeswoman for Catholic Charities.

The first busload of 500 teenage boys arrived Monday night. One thousand migrants are now temporarily housed at the Expo Hall.

Ford said volunteers were initially needed for three-hour shifts between 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. However, now they will be eight-hour shifts -- 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., 3 p.m. to 11 p.m., and 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. -- until further notice. She said they’ll still need the help of volunteers who are available for a few hours.

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With the influx from the border expected to continue for several more weeks, Ford said volunteers would be critically needed.

Giselle Thompson, a full-time mom, and U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Dan McBride were among the first volunteers willing to help.

“It’s set up in a way where they’re doing everything they can to make the children safe and comfortable,” said McBride, who worked an overnight shift.

Thompson said she didn’t want to leave after that first day.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever felt like I’ve done so much, and still I feel like I need to do so much more because there is so much more that can be done,” she said. “My heart, a piece of my heart, was still there. My heart was broken after it.”

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Thompson said she still wants to be able to help however she can. McBride said the experience gave him a new perspective.

“These are people. These are children,” he said.

McBride said to be able to see them for who they are and consider the trials they’ve faced, “maybe that can inspire you to be grateful for what we already do have and enjoy and find other ways that we can lift up our fellow human beings.”

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About the Authors:

Jessie Degollado has been with KSAT since 1984. She is a general assignments reporter who covers a wide variety of stories. Raised in Laredo and as an anchor/reporter at KRGV in the Rio Grande Valley, Jessie is especially familiar with border and immigration issues. In 2007, Jessie also was inducted into the San Antonio Women's Hall of Fame.