Partner Spotlight: Ministerio Puerta de Paz
With hearts full of love for their neighbors and an obligation to help others in times of need, pastors Guillermo and Guadalupe Albarran established Ministerio Puerta de Paz, a church located in Odenton, Maryland. For fifteen years this church has been dedicated to helping not only their congregation, but the lives of many families in Anne Arundel County. Countless times the pastors and members of the church have given out of their own pockets to lift others up when they are struggling. So, when the effects of COVID-19 began to infiltrate the communities they serve, it didn’t take long for them to act and assist those facing the harsh effects of the pandemic.
“When COVID started, we knew that our community was going to be affected drastically,” said Henry Sanchez, a representative of the church. Henry manages research and communications of the ministry “We could foresee that the need was going to increase, so we prayed and reached out to the Maryland Food Bank and that week, we were accepted. We would have food for another week to help out our community.”
While people of all genders, ages, and ethnicities have suffered from the harsh health and economic effects of COVID-19, research and statistics prove that people of color are disproportionately affected by this pandemic.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that, “long-standing systemic health and social inequities have put some members of racial and ethnic minority groups at an increased risk of getting COVID-19 or experiencing severe illness, regardless of age… including non-Hispanic black persons, Hispanics and Latinos, and American Indian/Alaska Natives,” (CDC, updated 6/25/2020).
With a large amount of their congregation and the community they serve identifying as Hispanic/Latinx, Ministerio Puerta de Paz understands the barriers their communities face; barriers heightened by Coronavirus. According to an article in the New York Times, analyzing CDC data, “Latino people between the ages of 40 and 59 have been infected at five times the rate of white people in the same age group,” (Oppel Jr., Gebeloff, Lai, Wright, and Smith, 7/5/2020).
The pastors, coordinators, and volunteers of this organization have served individuals in need with love and enthusiasm to meet the increased demand and high level of need for assistance. In the three months since partnering with the Maryland Food Bank, this church has distributed thousands of pounds of food to food-insecure Anne Arundel County residents under their #OurMissionIsYou initiative and are eager to do more:
“As long as you have food available, our team is available and willing to serve this nation during this difficult time,” Henry said.
From Client to Volunteer – Wilfredo’s Story
Across the globe, people’s lifestyles and livelihoods have been altered dramatically due to the current public health crisis. Americans have endured economic decline and high unemployment rates making it even more of a challenge for food-insecure individuals to adequately feed themselves and their families.
As COVID-19 escalated mid-March and was proven to be a serious threat to the world’s public health, many of our neighbors suffered. At Ministerio Puerta de Paz, pantry coordinators and volunteers came in contact with one of those individuals experiencing drastic changes to their typical way of living, pre-COVID:
“Right when COVID-19 started to hit this area , Wilfredo was evicted from his house. He was hopeless and living on the street without a clue of how he would survive. Thanks to a friend who told him about our food events, Wilfredo came to pick up food and requested for us to pray for his situation. We gave him clothing, assisted on a place for him to stay with his wife, and he is now working. Thanks to the food drive event, he now has hope!”
After consistently visiting the pantry week after week, Wilfredo established a close rapport with members of the church and now is an active volunteer at distribution events. Whether he’s helping load food into people’s cars or directing traffic, Wilfredo has been able to quickly turn his life around and in turn give back to others.
“Wilfredo personally thanked me,” Henry said. “Other people were using him as just a story and promising help, but the ones who really helped were us and the Maryland Food Bank.”
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