USA: The Holy Spirit Life Learning Center

Rosa Da Costa Menezes SSpS

The Holy Spirit Life Learning Center is a ministry of the Holy Spirit Missionary Sisters in the Paraclete Province of the United States who belong to VIVAT USA.  Our Center is located in Chicago, Illinois.

Since we started the Center in 2012, we have provided a welcoming space for all individuals to feel supported, grow in self-confidence, and develop life skills for better living and new friendships. Most of our clients are Hispanic women and children living in our area. Several of the programs we offer assist women in various ways to help their families and use the skills they learn as a minor source of income.

We have been able to serve immigrant families, especially families coming from Mexico, in different ways for these past ten years, thanks to the generosity of volunteers, community partners, our Sisters, and benefactors, who believe and trust in the mission of the Holy Spirit Life Learning Center. Currently, we are offering in-person educational and skill-building programs for adults and children, such as classes in English as a Second Language, arts and crafts, knitting and crocheting, case management services, Spanish literacy, basic computer, sewing class, basic guitar lessons, after-school homework help and more. These programs help to fulfill the Sustainable Development Goals, especially goals one – no poverty, four – quality education, and eight – decent work and economic growth.

We have offered workshops on immigration issues, household finances, and other pertinent topics. We offer a Summer Peace Camp Program for children in July each year.  Due to the circumstances of COVID, we needed to be creative in helping our clients.

During these ten years of our work here in the Center, we have seen some of the ways that the HSLLC educational programs impact those who come. We can see that our clients have made progress in developing new skills. For example, the sewing students sold their projects or gave them as gifts to others. Some reported that they were doing clothing alterations for neighbors. They also said they could save money by fixing their or their children’s clothes. Some of them reported that their classes help them to cope with stress and to practice patience. Others say they feel more valued by family members who see that they can learn something and do things independently. Others noted that the English classes are a valuable opportunity for them to improve communication skills which they use in their jobs with employers and coworkers, and to pay rent and other bills on their own, to go to a doctor or to the hospital, to meet with their children’s teachers and also to be able to help their children with their homework. Others talk about the Summer Camp Program. They feel grateful for this program because their children have improved their social and leadership skills. In this program, the children learn how to deal with conflict positively through games, crafts, field trips, and other activities. Children who see conflict resolution as a reality here retain what they learn.

These are some of the positive results of the programs over the last ten years.