Peace Corps Community for Refugees

El Paso Bishop Calls for RPCVs to Help with Asylum-Seekers

 “Tap into the volunteer spirit that motivated you to serve in the past and come to El Paso to assist us”

Dear former Peace Corps Volunteers:

My cousin, Patricia Silke Edmisten, a former Peace Corps Volunteer (Peru 1962-64),  suggested I write you. I presently serve as the Catholic Bishop of El Paso in Texas.

Without doubt you have been attuned in recent months to news about the large number of asylum-seekers we are witnessing presently seeking refuge in the United States. It seems that the El Paso region has become a major crossing point along the 2,000 mile border our country shares with Mexico. El Paso has always been a place of encounter and of passage as our very name suggests, but the numbers of families, many with young children, we are witnessing are considerably higher than in the past. The majority are fleeing unendurable levels of violence, instability and the resulting economic collapse in their home countries, especially the three nations that make up what are known as the Northern Triangle of Central America, El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala.

You have perhaps also heard about the poor treatment these refugees are receiving when they arrive at our border. Even though they are following processes laid out in international law they are treated in very punitive and inhumane ways by Border Patrol and officers.

Since the government does not have sufficient resources to detain them long term, after vetting them, the majority of these families are released on “parole” with the proper documentation to go to wherever they have relatives who can sponsor them as they go through the court process to make their asylum claim.

Those who cross in the El Paso region are released into the care of various volunteer organizations who are operating a number of shelters at churches and diocesan facilities in El Paso and Las Cruces. Lately those numbers have grown from an average of 300 a week to 300 a day, and there are indications that number may grow even more, although these things are hard to predict. The growth has forced us to open more shelters. Annunciation House has even rented our several budget hotels to assure that no families will be left on the streets.

At the shelters they have the opportunity to contact these relatives in order to arrange for bus or plane tickets. Meanwhile we provide them with food, clothing, a place to shower and to rest. Not least of which, we provide them with the first smile they have received in a very long time.

The reason I am writing you is to invite you to tap into the volunteer spirit that motivated you to serve in the past and to come to El Paso to assist us. As this situation continues it is straining the ability of our local community to respond. More than anything we need volunteers who are willing to stay for a minimum of a week serving in a wide range of capacities. Spanish language ability would be a tremendous help, but is not required. We need people to do everything from cleaning, to making contact with sponsor families, to driving families to the bus station, to coordinating shelters. Once you are here we can provide housing and meals.

Please consider this opportunity to serve. If you would like to volunteer, you may fill out the form you will find at the Annunciation House website under “contact form” or you may call Daron Mulligan, who helps schedule our shelter at the Diocesan Pastoral Center, Daron Mulligan at (215) 510-7128.

499 St. Matthews Street
El Paso, Texas 79907
Ph. (915) 872-8419

This letter was written by His Excellency, The Most Reverend Mark Seitz, Bishop of El Paso, Texas.  

Recent News

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Join Us in Supporting Mandy Manning, 2018 National Teacher of the Year

The Peace Corps Community for Refugees hosted a special event on October 9 in support of refugees and immigrants with the DC Forum at the New York University, Washington, D.C. Auditorium. Watch a recording of the live event here:



Mandy Manning, National Teacher of the Year, was our keynote speaker.  A Peace Corps Volunteer in Armenia and a veteran high school teacher in Spokane, WA,  Mandy has become one of the nation's leading advocates in support of immigrant and refugee students in our public schools. Refugee and immigrant residents also shared their stories, and leaders from faith-based groups and other placement agencies discussed successful ways all of us can mobilize local support for immigrants and refugees.

How You Can Help Spread RPCV’s Positive Message About Refugee and Immigrant Students

By Patricia Nyhan

We are unequivocally supporting 2018 National Teacher of the Year Mandy Manning, an RPCV from Armenia who teaches refugee and immigrant students in Spokane, WA. 

Manning has been heavily featured in news stories across America, and her meeting with President Trump was covered by most of the major U.S. news outlets. Her Peace Corps background is mentioned in most of the coverage. You can help boost Manning’s positive message about refugee students in the following ways:

  • Consider sending a short letter to the editor of your local paper about Manning. If the paper has failed to cover her, ask why they are not running this important story.
  • Write a letter to the editor in response to a news story about an outstanding local refugee student who is  graduating from high school.
  • If you notice that Manning plans to make an appearance near you, help with turnout.
  • Invite Manning to speak to an organization in your local area such as the Rotary Club, which partners with the National Peace Corps Association.

Please be aware that in many cases, organizations that invite her to speak will need to agree to help cover her expenses. Submit your scheduling request to CCSSO, the nonprofit that administers the National Teacher of the Year, using a request form on their website:

Get to know RPCV-Armenia Mandy Manning in this  CBS interview on YouTube!