Colorful houses decorated with statues of the Virgen de Guadalupe greeted members of the Texas Señoritas as they delivered over 2,000 feminine and hygiene-related products to residents of a family shelter on Saturday.
“These are necessary items that every woman needs, every person needs,” said Minerva Alderete, Texas Señoritas vice president. “We want to advocate and say, ‘No matter your circumstance, no matter your status, you’re human.’”
The family shelter, Posada Esperanza, is a branch of Casa Marianella, an Austin-based organization that provides housing and resources for homeless immigrants. Posada Esperanza focuses on women and children who are often escaping domestic or cultural abuse.
Texas Señoritas, also known as the Sigma Lambda Alpha sorority, held their ¡Viva La Mujer! donation drive throughout September to collect feminine products, other toiletries and monetary donations.
Alderete, a Mexican American studies senior, said the sorority holds the drive annually, but this is the first year they worked with Posada Esperanza.
“We’re Latina-based, and one of our stances is to help our ‘raza’ — to give back to the community and not leave them behind,” Alderete said. “Personally, my goal is to find something that could connect us more to the Latino community.”
Texas Señoritas member Bethany Luna said her most memorable moment was seeing one woman’s reaction to their donations.
“As we were walking through, it was cool because this one lady saw us with all of our stuff,” sociology sophomore Luna said. “She was applauding, and it was really nice.”
Members walked the items into the main house of Casa Marianella, where donations are stored and distributed to Posada Esperanza as needed.
“Sometimes (donors are) too intimidated or afraid to go near the shelter,” Alderete said. “I like the idea of us going and presenting what we’ve collected because we feel really passionate about the cause.”
Casa Marianella residents live in three houses in a neighborhood, which surprised Victoria Klebahn, the recruitment assistant for Texas Señoritas.
“It’s nice they live in an actual neighborhood,” said Klebahn, a youth and community studies junior. “Like, it’s not broadcasting they live in a shelter.”
Alderete said she wants to instill a feeling in the residents similar to that of a random woman offering a tampon to another woman in the bathroom.
“This is your time to hand off that tampon that you were once given to another woman who really needs it,” Alderete said.