DAVENPORT — The Congregation of the Humility of Mary (CHM) will present its 2013 CHM “Peace and Justice Award” to Rosa Mendoza of Muscatine. The award ceremony will be held at the Humility of Mary Center, 820 West Central Park Ave., Davenport, on June 28 at 7 p.m. All are welcome to attend.
The ceremony is a part of the CHM Annual Assembly where Sisters and their Associates from around the country gather in Davenport for a weekend of meetings and activities.
The Peace and Justice Award was established to honor deserving women who are committed to justice work, yet are not widely recognized. Like the Sisters, Mendoza represents a woman “attentive to the Spirit in the signs of the times” in that she deals with the wide range of issues faced by recent immigrants, a CHM news release states.
Since 1994 Mendoza has been executive director of The Diversity Service Center of Iowa in Muscatine. The center assists individuals and families with immigration needs and serves non-English-speaking senior citizens over age 60.
Mendoza is accredited by the Board of Immigration Appeals to assist the public on immigration issues. She educates her clients on the process from beginning to end. Even U.S. citizens and those who speak English struggle to navigate the system. Mendoza’s knowledge and experience give anxious clients peace of mind. They know they can trust her and that she will keep them informed of any changes along the way, the news release said.
“From the time I began my journey in assisting the public I knew that it was a calling from the Lord,” Mendoza said. “I have witnessed the suffering of many individuals in my office and have cried with them.
The separation of families — of parents from children — has been the greatest agony I have seen. I think about the unfairness of some of the immigration laws. I also understand that this is the only way individuals will gain their freedom to live and work in the United States. The most beautiful reward in this field is making a difference in someone’s life. To me it is priceless!”
Mendoza’s parents were born in Mexico. Her father came to the U.S. in 1956 and obtained his visa through the American Consulate in Mexico during a workers program. At the age of 5, her mother was brought to the U.S. on her father’s shoulder as he crossed the river. Her parents met in Oklahoma where they were picking cotton. “Each year my parents followed the crops. They went to Oklahoma to pick cotton, North Dakota to hoe sugar beets, Florida to pick citrus fruit, Ohio to pick tomatoes and cucumbers and Illinois to pick tomatoes and weed bean fields. In Texas they picked citrus fruit, onions, melons and sweet peppers.
As a migrant family we lived in Texas during the school year and traveled during the summer. We came to a camp in New Boston, Ill., in 1971. There was a migrant program in Muscatine that did visitations to camps. That was how we met two Sisters of Humility who were also biological sisters — Sisters Molly and Irene Munoz.
“I was born in Florida and raised in Texas and have lived in Muscatine since 1977. I have four children and nine grandchildren.”
Previous recipients of the Peace and Justice Award:
Sandy Walters, 2009; Lourdes Cottingham, 2005; Luz Bazan Gutierrez, 2003; Sister Pat Scherer, 2001; LaMetta Wynn, 1999; Elizabeth Loescher, 1997; Bonnie Neumeier, 1995; Janine Pease-Windy Boy, 1991; Donna Jean Henderson, 1989; Carolyn Uhlenhake, 1987; Ella Hartman, 1985; Justine Merritt, 1983.