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Local church throws pizza party for still-displaced Cimmaron residents

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Posted at 6:43 PM, Apr 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-28 23:44:07-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — It was in late February when management at Cimmaron Estates Senior Apartments began asking residents to leave their apartments due to a lack of power and water from a brutal winter storm.

Since then, dozens of Cimmaron residents have since been staying at the TownePlace Suites along South Padre Island Drive.

Residents can check a website for updates, but said they feel as if they're not being heard.

"That’s the worst part," said Cimmaron resident Judy Feris. " (It's) not knowing where are you going or what you’re going to do or how long you have (until something changes.) — and for the people who don’t have transportation and don’t know how they’re going to get around, let alone have a home — that's tough."

But as residents are now getting the green light to move back into the facility in phases as early as Thursday, a local church has been throwing a pizza party for the seniors temporarily staying at the TownePlace Suites every Wednesday since they were displaced.

"We just began devising some way that would be kind of a morale booster for them," said St. Mark's Episcopal Reverend John Hardie. "It just seemed natural to me to come and help them make this unhappy situation into more of an adventure so they had something to look forward to."

Hardie sang and played guitar. Whether it was "Take Me Home, Country Roads," or religious classics, a hard-hit community was able to relax.

"Singing, music — it softens everybody up a little bit," he said. "It changes our mood. ... (And it helps them) realize that somebody’s there."

The gathering is held at the hotel's lobby and lasts about an hour, but it's been giving residents the opportunity to connect.

"I have real bad asthma and COPD, so I don’t get out — and I have fibromyalgia so it’s hard for me to move around," said resident Linda Rivera. "But down here, I met some of my neighbors, that I didn’t even know from the other floors."

"I've fallen in love with all of them," Nan Gray, another resident added.

Until residents staying at the hotel are able to move back into their apartments, Hardie said he and his church will continue to make an appearance every Wednesday evening.

"When you say to somebody, I’m your neighbor, in your mind and we’re supposed to love each other," he said. "(When) people are in a serious, displaced situation like this, you have to keep coming back — there’s no real relationship if you don’t follow through and so, I told them we were going to be here as long as they were, we'll be coming to this hotel once a week as long as they were here and that’s a promise — and we intend to keep it."

Hardie said the efforts of the Salvation Army have been monumental in assisting residents.

Donations can be made specifically for the assistance of Cimarron residents through their website or by mail. The nonprofit's address is 521 Josephine St.