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Sojourner Truth Ministries’ recently renovated duplex aids immigrant family, House of Hope graduates

Guests of the ribbon cutting ceremony the recently renovated half duplex of the Sojourner Truth Ministries. KAREN VIBERT-KENNEDY/Sun-Gazette

Sojourner Truth Ministries has completed their new duplex, providing a home to a local family from Cuba.

Ridey Rielo and her husband, Sammy Rodriguez, will live in the duplex with their 3 year old son, Christopher. Rielo first came to the United States years ago when she was pregnant with Christopher. Her husband, Rodriguez, was able to join them in Williamsport shortly after.

Rielo and Rodriguez’s other children — a daughter, 16, and a son, 10 — are still living in Cuba with their grandmother. They have not seen their two children in Cuba in three years.

“I’m still in the process of bringing my kids from Cuba. It’s taking longer than expected, but it’s getting there. Hopefully soon I can get approval for bringing them. This apartment is going to help us save the money we need. The process is really expensive,” said Rielo.

The duplex that the family will be living in has been in the making for more than 2.5 years.

“All the way up to almost the deadline of when the sheriff sale happened, 10 days before, someone gave us a check out of the clear blue sky. It was enough and the board agreed that we could use it to purchase this, but no more. That’s about what it sold for at the sheriff sale, and then we got a grant from SCFP and it just went from there,” said Labadie-Cihanowyz.

“God has been with us every single step of the way with this. We’re so excited about the blessing that it’s going to be to the community and to the neighborhood, and those who live here,” said Labadie-Cihanowyz.

Rielo works as the office manager for Sojourner’s Truth Ministries and has been helping to renovate the duplex.

“We have been working a lot until really late. Every detail is not done yet, we still have to work a lot. But I am still really happy and excited,” said Rielo.

“We’ve had work teams come in plus hired help. It’s been a lot — a lot of love,” Angelique Labadie-Cihanowyz, executive director said.

The other side of the duplex will be a living space for recent graduates from Sojourner’s House of Hope program.

“It’s another communal living program. Once they graduate they will be able to live at a reduced cost to what regular rent would be so that they can continue to build a savings and get on their feet,” said Labadie-Cihanowyz.

Sojourner’s Truth provides lunch to those in need six days a week. Last year, they served over 20,000 meals to local individuals. They served over 2,000 in June.

“We exist to help people. We serve them. The numbers are going up, the needs are going up,” said Labadie-Cihanowyz.

“We seek to benefit the community and our neighborhood. We spiritually feed people as well as well as give physical food. We hope to be an encouragement to those who are in a season of struggle,” said Labadie-Cihanowyz.

To learn more about Sojourner Truth Ministries, visit stmwilliamsport.org/ or www.facebook.com/stmwilliamsport.

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