Non-profit that serves immigrants, homeless says these are scary times

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - By Danielle Thomas – bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - A non-profit organization that reaches out to immigrants and the homeless says these are scary times. The Village - El Pueblo has launched a campaign to raise $100,000 over the next few months. Officials say because of funding shortages, they've already had to cut some programs and now they're fighting to stay afloat.

Iveth Diaz says the people at El Pueblo were there when she didn't have money to pay rent or buy food for her children.

"They help me in everything. The apartment that I have now for me and my kids, they help me," said Diaz. "They help me a lot in my legal status. They teach me English."

El Pueblo officials say funding problems have cut out English classes and some other services that help Hispanic immigrants. The non-profit also offers a place for the homeless to shower and wash clothes twice a week. However, El Pueblo has had to put plans for an addict recovery program on indefinite hold.

The Reverend Sally Beveill is the director.

"I believe that we can tell people they need to change, but until we're part of the process that helps them to change, we're just hypocrites in what we're saying," said Beveill.

Mexican immigrant Martha Castillo said El Pueblo helped her and her children escape a domestic violence situation. It worries her to know that because of the economic downturn, the organization that helped her so much is now struggling to keep the lights on.

"Without El Pueblo. I don't think that many of us would be here," Castillo said. "We suffer much to come here with many illusions. The moment we get here, it's so different. Really, I wanted to run home to my country, but I couldn't."

Castillo said El Pueblo made a difference in her life.

"Here was like a second home," Castillo said.

"We have a big saying around here: 'We're going to walk by faith and not by fear,' but it's pretty scary times right now. Grants are not as available. So much more competition," said Rev. Beveill. "I think for those of us that came after Katrina and started the work, there was a lot of money and for those of us who have stuck it out and stayed, there's not very much money."

El Pueblo officials said despite their money woes, they still have faith that a generous community will help them keep helping the less fortunate.

To donate to El Pueblo, you may send a check to:

El Pueblo
P.O. Box 145
Biloxi, MS 39533

Or for more information, call (228) 436-3986.

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