Orlando, FL - Site Visit

Inspiring Day in Central Florida

Written by: Sister Rose Marie Tresp, RSM

June 3, 2013

Today was a one of many contrasts. We began the day by going to meet with the staff at the office of Representative Daniel Webster in Winter Park, Florida. We were met outside the office by groups of advocates for immigration reform: People Improving Communities through Organization (PICO), and citizens supporting immigration reform. PICO leads regular prayer vigils in front of Rep. Webster’s office.

Then we had a picnic lunch in a beautiful park with trees hung with Spanish moss followed by a meeting with the editorial staff of the Orlando Sentinel newspaper.

But the highlight of the day was the visit to the Hope Community Life Center in Apopka. Hope is a fantastic place of community, relationships, service, education, advocacy, and spiritual growth. There are so many wonderful programs that it is impossible to list all of them but they range from youth groups to English as a Second Language, GED classes, citizenship classes, social services, and service learning programs. We heard presentations by the many participants in the program. So often, I was moved to tears by both the difficult stories and the success stories. But, overwhelmingly, I felt the call to be in relationships. The day spoke loudly that life is most important not for how much stuff we have but for how many relationships we have. To be with group of people, both members of the Hope Community and the visitors, both those living in fear because of their legal status, and those in solidarity with them, was inspiring and beautiful.