By Barb Arland-Fye
The Catholic Messenger
DAVENPORT — Iowa Welcomes Immigrant Neighbors — IowaWINS — received the “One among Us” award April 21 during the Pacem in Terris Peace and Freedom Award Ceremony at St. Ambrose University. Bishop Thomas Zinkula presented the award on behalf of the Pacem in Terris Coalition of the Quad Cities.
The recipients of both awards — Sister Norma Pimentel and IowaWINS — minister to immigrants. Sister Norma serves immigrants on the Texas border with Mexico and IowaWINS serves immigrants in the Mount Pleasant, Iowa, area. Two representatives of IowaWINS, the Rev. Trey Hegar, pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Mount Pleasant, and Tammy Shull, accepted the One Among Us Award. IowaWINS is a community commission of the First Presbyterian Church.
Bishop Zinkula cited IowaWINS’ “efforts and humble service to meet the direct needs of the Mount Pleasant immigrant community, for their love and compassion for people in the greatest time of need and for their ability to change the trajectory for countless individuals and families.”
Shull, looking directly at the audience, said, “I want to tell you just how grateful we are for the support that has come from this community.” She credited diocesan Social Action Director Kent Ferris who “was with us all along from the very beginning when we started to explore what it meant to understand immigration and to understand the refugee process.”
In educating their community and themselves about the immigration and refugee crisis, one of the unexpected blessings for IowaWINS was “the blessing of so many friendships and relationships from especially other faith communities,” Rev. Hegar said. He, too, thanked the Davenport Diocese for its support.
Sister Mary Bea Snyder, a member of the Congregation of the Humility of Mary, travels regularly to Mount Pleasant to drop off a variety of necessities she collects for the people whom IowaWINS serves. Her journeys to Mount Pleasant began several years ago when she collected gifts for Christmas for the children, a project that continues to fill her with joy. She provided a brief history and the mission of IowaWINS before Bishop Zinkula presented the award.
“The vision of IowaWINS continues to grow and connect families throughout southeast Iowa,” she said. “It is with heartfelt gratitude that we present the One Among Us Award to IowaWINS. Know that we will continue to hold you in our prayers and follow your example of welcoming the stranger, the immigrant among us.”
IowaWINS formed in 2015 in response to the Syrian refugee crisis. Three years later, IowaWINS became the “epicenter of the response to the ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) raid in Mount Pleasant, which left the families of 32 men without their primary breadwinners” (iowawins.net).
Presbyterian Disaster Assistance and the Catholic Diocese of Davenport have been major partners with IowaWINS since the raid. The organization’s first commitment, among many, is to “develop relationships and partnerships within our communities and beyond to develop and implement solutions to common problems that immigrants face.”