On Thursday, December 14th over 300 people gathered in the basement cafeteria of Maria Catalyst High School for a SWOP event; the annual SWOP Holiday Party. They came out in the cold to celebrate the holidays, to remember 20 years of organizing work, but most importantly, to make connections and build relationships with their neighbors.
At the party, everyone enjoyed chicken from Holy Cross Hospital, pizza from Greater Southwest Development Corporation, lots of homemade dishes from Parent Mentors, and a wide selection of desserts donated from SWOP member institutions. Young people from Teen REACH, VOYCE, and Elev8 served up the food. Betty Gutierrez, Sister Margaret Zalot, and Jeff Bartow offered reflections on 20 years of organizing. There was festive holiday music. And mostly, there were conversations between old friends and new acquaintances.
Maggie Perales recalled that the Holiday Party used to be small enough that it could be held in the old SWOP offices; an old apartment above the NHS offices. Now it fills up the cafeteria with people from every SWOP member institution and lots of friends from affiliated organizations. It is a sign of a strong neighborhood that people from all over the community like to come together and share in the holiday spirit.