CWS Harrisburg’s Navidad Celebration

Erika Juran, Development and Communications Officer | January 25, 2024

Last year ended with the festive spirit of Feliz Navidad, which filled the Church World Service Harrisburg office, spreading warmth and joy to many. Health Navigator Kara Emrich and Resettlement Supervisor Sarah Michitsch quickly planned this event when they found out that some of their Hispanic clients didn’t know where to spend Christmas and were worried about being alone.

“Our clients championed this event and made it their own. We just provided them with the space to create community amongst each other. As a Latina that celebrates Christmas, this was so hard for me to hear, and it was the motivation to create this gathering,” Sarah shared.

The event saw a heartening attendance of 37 clients, 3 volunteers and 5 staff members. Among the clients, 16 were children and 21 were adults from Cumberland and Dauphin Counties. Celebrants hailed from Guatemalan, Colombian, Venezuelan and Nicaraguan.

To add a touch of cultural richness, clients were encouraged to bring a dish from their heritage to share. The spread featured an array of delights, including salads, chicken, tamales, desserts and more—a true celebration of the diversity that makes these gatherings special.

“I asked some of the younger adults to plan games. Sarah brought some craft materials and decorations. The nativity sets brought tears to their eyes. The event was just magical,” said Kara.

As the festivities unfolded, literal tears of joy were shed by the clients, creating a memorable and magical atmosphere. Cindy Anderson, Co-sponsorship Developer, captured the essence succinctly: “Literally, clients cried tears of joy.”

Confronted with challenges and the potential solitude of the Christmas season, this special night served as a symbol of hope and communal solidarity. The thoughtful and personal celebration of Feliz Navidad underscores the efficacy of uniting, exchanging traditions and fostering a sense of belonging throughout the holiday period. Beyond delivering joy and gifts, the event served as the cornerstone for enduring connections within diverse communities.

To learn more about CWS Harrisburg, visit their website.