News from the Project #2

Wednesday, April 30, 2008


AmeriCorp-VISTA Volunteer-
Sofia Ventura

After being laid off from a factory job that I had for 8 years I returned to school to get a CNA degree. I have always wanted to be a nurse so that I could help people. Since I had spare time, I started to walk in the mornings where I met a PJD walking group. Nina, the walking group leader, told me that Sister Phylis was looking for someone to fill a volunteer position working in the community of Cameron Park, where I live. I jumped at the chance of helping to educate and promote health in my community because I really want to make a difference in people's life. I had been praying that God would give me the strength and wisdom to help lots of people. God answered my prayers with the opportunity to work at PJD. It has been an amazing experience so far. I do a variety of things daily. I help people fill out the US citizenship application. And I also teach them the questions they might be asked during their interview to gain citizenship. I help those who have a low-income recieve their medicine at no cost. This is very rewarding for me. Along with citizenship and the pharmacy assistance program, I assist Sister Sharon with the youth group and the gardening program for children. I have already learned a lot and am really happy that God has opened this door for me and blessed me in this way. I am proud to be here at Proyecto Juan Diego.


Front Desk Volunteer - Patricia Garcia

My name is Patricia Garcia and I have been a volunteer at PJD since January of 2008 when Sr. Phylis invited me to help out here. A year and a half ago I signed up to take a Stress Management Course (Capacitar). This course helped me to learn how to deal with the stress in my life and after finishing the class I felt more at peace. I wanted to continue to learn more about managing stress so I took the classes to become a Capacitar teacher. Then Carolina, the Coordinator of the Capactiar program, invited me along with some other women, to begin our own stress management courses. I taught the same course to others that I was first taught and had come full circle. When Sr. Phyis asked me if I would be willing to help at PJD I was happy to accept the invitation. I volunteer each morning at the front desk answering the telephone, welcoming anyone who comes, and helping the staff with whatever they need.

The time that I have given in service has served me as well. Now each day I am able to give a little of myself to others and this is very gratifying. I am a person that only wants to be a little closer to God- and I am happy that I do feel closer to Him.

I am grateful that Sr. Phylis and my friend, Carolina, believe in me and have given me this opportunity.


Wednesday, February 20, 2008


One of PJD's most sucessful programs is our community-based diabetic program. In partnership with Dr. Kirk Smith at theUniverstiy of Galveston, we are educating and encouraging those who are diabetics and pre-diabetics in Cameron Park. Blanca Escobar is a Diabetic Coordinator for PJD. She teaches classes about diabetes and living with diabetes for newly diagnosed
diabetics. After the classes, she follows up with home visits for six weeks. We've heard of the changes she has made in people's lives. One husband told his wife, "You'd better not eat that (something sweet)....Blanca is coming tomorrow and is going to ask you about your diet!" With her bright smile and uplifing spirit, she's talked with some of those who were down or depressed about their diagnosis to become more active. She's promoted dance classes and invited people to join a walking group or areobics class. Blanca dances and exercises right along the others...her life is an example for others.

The salsa dancing class, held at San Felipe de Jesus' parish hall, is now a favorite class of many people. Women of all ages light up, stepping and swinging to the music. Dancing is not only fun but it is great exercise.

Diabetes is a growing disease in our country (and in our colonia). It is something that changes lives but it is also something that can stimulate people to live a healthier life. We at PJD are always looking for ways to improve the lives of those we serve...and we've found DANCING to be one way!
(Photo above: Blanca prepares a healthy meal for those in the Nutrition Course. Below:Video of Salsa dancing!!)

Monday, November 12, 2007

Saturday November 10, 2007 Proyecto Juan Diego held an Open House for our collaborators, friends, and communtiy members of Cameron Park. The day was held from 1:00 to 3:00 in the afternoon and began with a blessing of the new facilities. The blessing was followed by a short program and a celebration. It was a day of celebrating a dream come true for all of us at PJD! (Watch a video of the event below by clicking on the arrow under the Juan Diego patient it may take a minute.)

In our new facilities, we have begun a program working with Senior Citizens of our community. Older adults from the colonia gathered at Proyecto Juan Diego for a day of acvities and companionship.

Our day started with cholesterol and blood sugar screenings followed by a small snack. We continued the day with a craft project, excercises, games, and lunch followed by faith sharing. In small groups, the seniors reflected on all they have been grateful for in their lives by making a collage. Our time together ended with a heartfelt prayer of thanks. We learned a lot about each other through our time together...we have some undiscovered artists in our neighborhood, some great story tellers, and people of tremendous faith! We are all looking forward to the next time we gather to share our lives together.
As Thanksgiving approaches we give thanks for all those who have supported our work at PJD especially the Daughters of Charity, our local community, and our families. We also give thanks for those we serve for they are truly a gift to us!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

When Proyecto Juan Diego’s staff were doing their survey of the local community, we found a 46 year old man, bedridden, paralyzed from waist down. He and his wife live in a 3 room home which they share with another family and their newborn baby. The man had been working and fell off a step-ladder 4 months earlier. He did not have any insurance because he was a part time employee and therefore had no medical benefits. The company did take him to the emergency room and immediately surgery was done for his injuries- but no other follow-up was given- nor did he have any hope. When we met him, he was able to get up in a wheelchair with assistance but was not really using any of his lower or upper extremity muscles. They were deteriorating. We purchased a trapeze to place over his bed so he could move himself around. We also took a physical therapist to his home to evaluate him. She in turn gave his wife and I instructions how to follow-up with specific exercises. Now, four months later, with the continual follow-up of the physical therapist and PJD staff, he is feeling tingling sensations in his lower extremities and his muscles in the upper extremities are getting much stronger. He now has a hope for a fuller life with more possibilities than before. We are also helping the wife to adjust to the extensive care that is required for someone who is paralyzed. The family cannot express the benefits that our presence brought to them. They have many challenges to face in the future but now have a support system and people around them that understand and care.
Written by Sister Phylis Peters, DC and Blanca Escobar

Monday, June 18, 2007

Proyecto Juan Diego has begun its summer activities.
This year the PJD has hit the streets of the colonia surveying the people of the community. One survey is being done in partnership with UTB School of Public Health. The survey questions target diet and exercise practices. The other survey has been developed by the PJD to find out the health and citizenship needs of the people. The staff has met many wonderful people in the colonia through these door to door surveys and we have already begun to help those in need.
We have begun “The Great Bible Reef” summer bible camp for K-12 grades. There are 4 different sessions based on grade levels. Currently, thirty-one children in K-2 grade are attending camp. The teens from the youth group are teaching and assisting in the classes of crafts, dance and drama, science, and bible. The youth have been a great example to the children. We have all learned that God’s people: CARE, HELP, TRUST, BELIEVE, AND LISTEN.
The portable offices and classrooms have been moved to PJD new site. The flooring has been laid and bathrooms constructed. In the months ahead, the buildings will be painted, electricity, water, etc. connected. It is moving along slowly but surely (and not so surely). We look forward to moving in at the end of the summer.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Neighborhood Gardens

Blanca helps Sylvia S. plant a tomatoe plant- they grow best when 80% of the plant is buried.

In Brownsville Texas, February 2 is the offical date of the last possible frost, so as soon as the date passed it was time to start planting a garden! Blanca Escobar and I headed out with the bed of her green truck filled with 3 gallon plastic pots, gardening tools, plants, and seeds. We stopped at the homes of 7 people who are diabetics, to begin small container gardens to help them to grow their own vegtables. At each home we planted a tomoatoe, brocoli and jalepeno pepper plants along with radish and squash seeds.
Now, every other week like a county extension agent, I visit the people and their plants. The plants are a good excuse to stop in and see how these folks are doing. It gives me an opportunity to talk with them about what is happening in their lives. A month into the gardening project the plants, for the most part, are growing well- the seeds have sprouted and the plants already have buds which will soon bear fruit (even the brocoli, a cool weather vegtable, is flowering!)

I watch as Francisca prepares her containter to plant the tomatoe plant.