An Excerpt from a Night in February by Erin Edmonds

Context: At Casa Marianella’s Adult Shelter, we operate on a 24-hour clock. Staff is asked to pull a night shift once a week. As of late, we’ve been operating on overflow. Maximum capacity: 38. Housing Reality: 52. 52 residents. We’ve managed to wedge 14 extra people in 3500 square feet. Needless to say, we’re a bit tight.

These are my noche notes from a night in February. They were originally written for staff, with a full disclosure of resident info. The following has been edited for the wider Casa community. Enjoy.


So guys……

I pulled out the Mac and Cheese tonight.

I’ve always wanted to pull out the Mac and Cheese for food shift because it’s the only thing I feel confident making.

I pulled out the Mac and Cheese tonight to feed four children.

I know I know I know, Jennifer said something along the lines of “We can’t push another pin through Casa right now.” I know I know I know, we are suppose to turn people away…

But when two Somali women show up on the Casa doorstep, three bags heavy, arms laden with children, just released from Laredo, you pull out the Mac and Cheese and mobilize.

Here are the deets:

The women came at nine with four children, a 4 year-old, a 2-year-old, and 1-and-a-half-year-old twins. I called JLO (Jennifer Long, Casa ED) who told me to call Patti (Posada ED) who didn’t pick up. Apparently, the women had called Posada in the Taxicab and were turned away because Posada is so full… I talked to Brittney (Posada Staff) who confirmed this story. They then came to Casa without calling…

They have no connections in the United States. They had nowhere else to go. I called Salvation Army who cannot place them for quite some time. I will try Foundation for the Homeless at 9AM.

Unable to make contact with Patti, while children played on my heart strings, I went the route of radical hospitality and told them this was just for tonight and we would try to figure something else out in the morning.

So we pulled out the Mac and Cheese and Team Casa mobilized.

Introducing Team Casa Mozzarella: Compassionate Badass Edition


Eritrean Goddess STH: She let the women use her bed to change diapers. She then cooked a tasty something something and pulled out her own supply of injera for the women to enjoy alongside some bottled water. When the women finished showering and washing up around 11:45, she helped me tow their things across the street. Her bright, cheery demeanor missed no beats. She rocked that late-night Casa convivial vibe.

Somali Boy Wonder FH : Our Golden boy proved to have the fatherly instinct.  He held the little girl all night, let the boys climb up his back, all the while, engaging the women as they ate.

AAG AKA “Prince”: After Junta, he helped me carry the resident-donated blankets across the street. He then proceeded to make-up the beds.

Cameroonian Heroine AEDM: At one point, she offered her bed but understood that it made more sense to have the kids in the laundry room. She helped me and Prince make-up the laundry room. She also tolerated four children in her space until 12 AM. It took awhile for the women to wash up.

Mexican Warrior TTC: He was very understanding of the situation and graciously slept on the comedor floor.

ALL-STAR standouts of the evening:

Malawi’s Studliest Softy Big B : I asked at Junta if anyone was willing to donate something to the cause of housing the family for the night. He came into the office and told me he would give up his bed. I said he didn’t have to, but he insisted.

Celebrated Somali Superstar LF : He was truly the MVP of the evening. When the women first came, he cooked up some of the drumsticks he bought at HEB today and served them over rice. “You know man, it’s like if my mom were here, you know?” He then donated some blankets along with his bed. Both him and Big B moved the beds across the way and slept on the floor in the men’s room.

So we pushed 6 more pins through the Casa pin cushion.

The house still stands.

We pulled out the Mac and Cheese.

And it was damn good.

*This night was made possible in part by contributions from the following:

Eritrean Donor STMT (blanket)

Iranian “El Capitan” HS (Giant, never-before-opened, fuzzy blanket with a graphic of a regal deer)

Cameroonian Heroine AEDM (Blanket)

Malawi’s Studliest Softy Big B: (Bed)

Celebrated Somali Superstar LF: (Bed)