Here at Ciudad Nueva, we firmly believe that God can use even the most difficult, seemingly impossible situations for good. One thing is for sure — 2020 has been a very challenging year. As this new year begins, we are taking time to give thanks for the many ways God blessed us and our community, even during this unpredictable time.
The No. 1 challenge we’ve faced at Ciudad Nueva in 2020 has been the physical distance from our beloved community. We love to see the faces of our kids, young adults, parents, elderly, partners, and everyone involved in our ministry. We miss the neighbors, the events and the celebrations. We have missed out on the joy of hugs and handshakes.
We miss you!
We’ve seen our community go through tremendous hardships this year. Community members have lost their jobs and been faced with uncertainty. Some of our neighbors did not qualify for stimulus checks. Kids weren’t able to participate in our programs consistently, and we understand.
Through all of this distance, our staff and community remained steadfast. In fact, our staff and community worked as a team in ways we have never seen before!
Creativity and extra hours led to the development of new and improved programs. In the past year, we saw incredible generosity and involvement in our food co-op; neighbors delivered food and necessities to each other in love. Our volunteers went the extra mile to learn new technology to continue our programs. With the new accessibility of our online program, kids we had missed have returned!
A Year of Hope
Several new events happened at Ciudad Nueva in 2020 before the pandemic hit. We kicked off the year by bolstering youth empowerment and community enrichment by offering art for healing. Artistic outlets were provided for those who were affected by our country’s immigration policies. We invited those seeking legal counsel to participate in an art project — while they waited to be seen! This event was fun, but it also started an important conversation between us and the community about immigration. We also used art as a tool to help young people express their feelings. Children drew themselves as empowered individuals and were eager to share their creations with others.
Launch Pad evolved as our staff found new ways to connect with our kids and youth through the pandemic. Bible studies, music, crafts, and even guided exercise were provided online to the kids in our program. Our volunteers and mentors were blessed to be able to check in virtually with the kids regularly and hear about their lives at home. Our awesome teens participated in interactive virtual activities, including online gardening and Netflix parties!
Summer brought small-scale hangouts and Bible studies to our youth programs. Elementary students showed flexibility by playing in small groups. Middle school students brought a public mural to life. High school students grabbed fast food in small groups and took initiative by checking in on each other online. Ciudad Nueva’s Learning Pods brought new life to virtual learning in the Fall. Students showed up, studied in a quiet and organized space, and shared socially distanced fellowship. We are so proud of the way our students took care of each other this past year.
There have also been big changes in our staff at Ciudad Nueva in 2020. Our precious Executive Director of 16 years, Sami Dipasquale, stepped down to start his journey with Abarra Frontiers. We were blessed to gain Bethany Molinar, our previous Operations Director, as our new Executive Director! Some shuffling and reorganization occurred through this transition, and our staff stepped up to help us keep running smoothly. We are so thankful for the many ways our staff worked behind the scenes. From partnering with the community in new ways, to adjusting and improving our food bank, to finding creative ways to love the kids in our program well and stay connected, their work shone.
We ended the year by modifying our Christmas store to keep participants safe. We offered staggered shopping and hosted our store outside. Even though we all had to wear masks to stay safe, it was such a joy to see the faces of our neighbors! We are looking forward to when we can have our typical Christmas celebration at the store, but until then, we are so thankful for everyone who volunteered, shopped, or stopped by to say “hi.”
Looking ahead to this new year, we are anticipating great things. We have a new program in the works to provide elderly services, like Food Co-op delivery and check-ins. The neighbors around us are continuing to give generously to each other and bless us through their good work. We expect our kids and teens to keep loving, keep giving, and keep making us laugh. We hope that we can see you soon, every one of you, in this new year. We’ve seen hardship, creativity, and overflowing blessings at Ciudad Nueva in 2020. Please pray for provision, discernment, and that God’s hand will touch our work this year.
Ciudad Nueva is a community-based nonprofit that exists to advance the renewal and development of central El Paso’s Rio Grande neighborhood through the empowerment and transformation of its residents. Please join us in this new year! Call us today at 915-521-2951 or contact us online.