Puente Traditional Community Posada: A Journey of Generosity

A message from Rita Mancera, Executive Director, Puente.

I think about Posada even when it is not the holiday season because, at Puente, I often get to see the difference that generosity makes in the lives of people. Those tender moments illuminate my day and energize me to continue my own journey with Puente and my South Coast neighbors. The Posada starts with the need for shelter and culminates with the generosity of the person who decides to provide it. There is always someone in our community who needs this safety net of support to make ends meet, to overcome depression, to pay their way to college, to get a better paid job.

Not long ago, a local family was evicted from their home of 12 years. Although they were given appropriate notice and an extension, the day came when they needed to leave and they had still not found a new home. This family of five could not find a place that would host them all. When I talked to one of the parents I learned they had already been using 80% of their income to pay their monthly rent. Other housing options were even more expensive and not anything they could afford.

In searching for a home for this family, I eventually came across a farm that was upgrading a small trailer, but the owner would only take four people. The trailer had just one large bedroom. I decided to present the option to the parents. I figured they could somehow coordinate with a relative to provide housing for the older son. With pride, the parents told me that was not an option. “We need to stay together,” said the father, and I felt immense love for his conviction.

I really wish I could tell you they found a place, but they did not. With no success, my colleagues and I made several phone calls to other farms and other neighbors we thought might have a vacancy. With financial support provided by Puente, the family stayed in various hotels for a few days but that option was not sustainable for Puente or for them. Their journey took them to their sister, where the children now stay in the home and the parents now live out of their car.

I know our county will work on housing solutions. I know Puente will stay involved to support housing initiatives and will lead when necessary, but change is not coming fast enough.

We have not forgotten that this family needs our support, and that is why I chose to write about them. I thought maybe this Posada message could provide light to them once and for all. I have faith that a generous soul will reach out to provide them with shelter. As we think about the cold season coming up, perhaps we will look at places we haven’t yet looked and ask people we haven’t yet asked. This is why I think about Posada even when it is not holiday time.

Join us this Friday, December 16, for the Community Posada. The Live Nativity procession will start at 5:30 PM at Pescadero Community Church, 363 Stage Road, followed by a program in St. Anthony Church and Pescadero Elementary School multipurpose room.

In this holiday season, we are so grateful for you and your many generous gifts that will provide both comfort and delight for children and adults in our community. Your faith and support makes the impossible, possible.

Giving Thanks This Posada

At the end of every year around the holiday season, Puente organizes a gift giving drive for the members of the community who need it the most. Centered around Posada, a traditional Christmas celebration which involves a reenactment of the story of Joseph and Mary, the drive is a time for the South Coast community to celebrate the support we can both give and receive.

“For the past few years we have been running a special online drive for notebooks, pencils, socks, hats–what many would consider the essentials for school and for winter,” says Corina Rodriguez, community resource navigator and the coordinator of Puente’s holiday giving program.

“We understand that some of our donors really like the opportunity to give something that will be put to immediate use,” Rodriguez continues. “The online drive for winter essentials and gifts is a great way for the members of our community to receive the basics they need in the colder months and for donors to choose tangible items to be given.”

The drive, which started in the Fall, has climbed to 62% of its goal as of November 1, leaving exactly 16 days for donors and friends to help us get to 100%. You can select items and donate then online today.

Posada is the Spanish word for dwelling or lodging. Puente celebrates the spirit of Posada by focusing the gifts on items needed around the home–things like towels and body wash, storage containers and markers. Just as our Día de los Muertos celebration is an opportunity to promote help and support among our community, the Posada celebration is also a time for us to encourage each other and give thanks.

This year, the Posada celebration at Puente will be on Friday, December 16. The procession will start at 5:30 followed by activities for kids, family-style dinner and, as always, a special guest will arrive to give stockings to everyone.

For those donors who prefer to let parents choose what to get for their children this holiday season, there is also an opportunity to give a monetary donation that will go directly towards Puente’s purchase of gift cards. We are currently at about 40% of our goal for gift card donations. You can make a donation online for gift cards today—simply mark it with ‘Posada and Holiday Gift Cards’ in the special purpose drop-down.

“As the season shifts to the colder months, farmworkers are not working as much as they did earlier this year and therefore not generating as much income,” notes Rita Mancera, executive director of Puente. “This makes it even more difficult to budget for gifts for their children this holiday season.”

Parents register for gift cards with Puente and must meet income and residency requirements. The gift cards put the decisions in the hands of the parents. Check out this video of parents who have received Posada gift cards in past years:

Whether you want to choose the gifts yourself as a donor or empower parents in our community to make the decisions, we welcome and encourage you to donate to the Puente annual Posada holiday gift drive. In the spirit of being thankful, Puente thanks our donors, volunteers and friends for your ongoing commitment to and support of the South Coast community. We hope to see you at the Posada celebration on December 16!