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 | Ann Dibbles

Okanogan County Catholics Partner with Prepares

Spring is in the air! Almost imperceptibly, the days have been getting longer. Immigrant robins from Guatemala are arriving, scouting out sites to build softly lined nests in which to raise their babies. The mother will incubate the eggs, and then the father will help feed them—you know this. But, did you know that house finches have been seen also feeding the baby robins? This is good, because a clutch of three eats about 100 meals a day!

Human mothers and fathers also rely on the community to help them through the demanding first five years of their children’s lives. Grandparents get involved, as do friends with children of similar ages. Everything goes better with a good support system.

But sometimes, the support isn’t there. Maybe Grandma lives in Texas, or the new mother faces a mountain of other challenges that complicate her situation. Poor health and insufficient income are two common crises that make raising a thriving child difficult.

The community can still contribute. PREPARES volunteers, Catholic parishioners who have a heart for sustaining life, help by listening, by searching out resources, by playing with the baby so the mother can study—all the things friends do for each other. Volunteers and the families they serve often become friends, after so much close contact.

The first referral the Okanogan parishes under Father Luta received was Amber (not her real name). Amber is a single mother with a 14-month-old little girl who had nowhere to live. She moved from shelter to shelter, from couch to couch. When she reached the PREPARES team, Amber reported that she was on a housing waitlist and simply asked for prayers that she and her daughter could get into an apartment soon. The Okanogan volunteers gathered and discussed how they might be able to help Amber. Volunteer Lupe honored Amber’s request of prayer by making sure a Mass would be offered for her at Immaculate Conception in Oroville. Alyssa volunteered to be her family companion, and would keep reaching out to her to see how she was doing.

In a few days, the volunteers gathered some resources. There was space for Amber to stay in a trailer, and a community organization would be willing to pay her rent. Amber was very happy to hear the news and stayed there a couple nights, until she learned that she could now move into an apartment. The same community organization that offered to pay her rent at the trailer offered to pay her rent at her new apartment.

Amber and her daughter have been wrapped in the arms of Catholic service. Prayer, friendship, and an outpouring of material support to help her take care of her little one. Thank you, Okanogan County Catholics!