Topeka ministry works to empower and support immigrants

Local News

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Adjusting to life in a different country can be difficult. 

That’s why the volunteers at VIDA Ministry are stepping in to make the transition easier.

VIDA Director Constancio Garay knows what it’s like to adjust to life in a new country.

“Being an immigrant, I understand exactly what they’re going through, the transition that they’re going through,” said Garay.

He made the move from Bolivia to the United States in 1981 to continue his career as a teacher.

The adjustment wasn’t easy, but it’s what inspired him to give back.

“One of the reasons I enjoy this is because when I came here as a new immigrant in Topeka, I used agencies like VIDA Ministry or the Salvation Army,” said Garay.

At VIDA, knowledge is power, and for the people they serve, that knowledge equals hope.

They offer a number of different programs, from ESL classes to nutrition classes and even a community garden.

“We’re helping develop some skills that eventually they’re going to use for whatever job they’re doing in the community or in the business,” said Garay. “I think we’re helping them to be more efficient.”

Since starting in 2006 VIDA Ministry has served over 1,000 people.

“VIDA has been around for over a decade and it really has been focused on the Hispanic community here and wanting to support them at a comprehensive, holistic level,” said volunteer Allison Crow.

Crow helps teach ESL classes at VIDA. She said the services they offer help empower the people they serve.

“The students that come here are very motivated,” said Crow. “They want to learn the language. They want to be able to assimilate into the culture, to understand how to communicate with those around them, especially at work or at the store.”

They’re gaining much more than just life skills, they’re also gaining a community of people who support them.

For more information about VIDA, click HERE.

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