Mother-daughter duo helping reunite families separated at border

By Sarah Acosta - Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - Catholic Charities anticipates 400 immigrant families will arrive at their non-profit over the next two week. It took some major manpower to make those preparations.

Forty to 50 volunteers are currently on-call and ready to work while those families are at the non-profit, reuniting for the first time since arriving at the border. 

“We just want to be part of it," said Michelle Quintero, a volunteer with Catholic Charities. “We want to help these families feel like a family again, because they haven’t been for a while.”

Quintero and her daughter Mia have been volunteering at the non-profit over the past couple of days in 12-hour shifts together. Michelle Quintero said she and her daughter are inseparable and couldn’t imagine being apart.

“It was what started our passion to want to help, was I talked about, imagine if one of my children was taken away from me when they were itty bitty,” Michelle Quintero said.

It’s been tedious work for volunteers, collecting and organizing the donations that have poured in from the community in anticipation of these families arriving.

Christina O’Neill Higgs, Director of Fundraising for Catholic Charities, says the community has really pitched in to do their part.

“It’s been in front of us for so long— everybody has reached out to help,” O’Neill Higgs said. “Whether it’s a family that brought in a couple cans of goods or people sending us money for however we need.”

When families first arrive at Catholic Charities, they will be taken into a room where they will meet with case workers and make phone calls to families. Afterward, they will have access to items they need including toiletries and clothing.

Several caseworkers are also available to work with the families in order to make what O’Neill Higgs calls a fragile emotional process of families reuniting a smooth one.

“We are doing out best to make sure it's a smooth process, a very caring and dignified process for every single person involved,” O’Neill Higgs said. “So we are doing everything we can on the back end to make it perfect for those families when they step through our door.”

If the public wants to donate, Catholic Charities is taking donations at their location at 202 West French Place. 

They are asking donors to call 210-222-1294 first or check their social media pages to see what items they specifically need. They are taking new items such as undergarments, toothbrushes and restaurant gift cards.

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