From March 24 through April 28, our Share the Plate recipient was Sanctuary Everywhere. This is a new program we are incubating in response to the growing number of asylum seekers detained in Colorado, and in partnership with La Cocina, a community mental health organization serving the immigrant community in Northern Colorado.
Share the Plate donations were $6,347.78, which, in addition to generous outside donations, brings the total to over $10,000 given to this new ministry.
Foothills member Cindy Conlin gave the following testimonial during worship on March 24 to kick off this Share the Plate series:
Last October, I started visiting a woman from Honduras in the Aurora Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention center once a week. She’d turned herself in to request asylum, because she’s not safe in her home country.
After giving the guard my ID, I’d be taken back to the visitation room, where, locked in for an hour, I sat on a hard metal stool and talked on a phone, through the glass, with my friend.
I went to accompany my compañera, Spanish for companion — “compa” for short — to provide emotional support, and to reaffirm her humanity in a dehumanizing system.
She was often cold and bored, so I sent bilingual books; but they never made it in. We could cut books and mail them in 3 pages at a time, or she could buy items at inflated prices from the commissary at the for-profit detention center.
We mailed in money orders, so she could call her family, buy toothpaste, deodorant, a long-sleeved shirt, and sufficient food. It costs about $5 a day to eat adequately there.
Over time, I learned that if my compa could find a US citizen willing to give her housing, food, and transportation to court and ICE appointments, she could be paroled to live with them while her case was processed. My Foothills friend Anne Haro Sipes agreed to do this, and joined me on visits.
About a month ago, my compa was released and is now living with Anne. Foothills has formed a 6-person village to support her, until she gets her work permit, wins her asylum case, and qualifies for support from other organizations on her journey to a productive life here in the United States. So far we have purchased clothes, a cell phone, toiletries for her. My dentist gave her a free initial exam and a long list of work to be done. Next week she’ll visit the doctor. She enrolled in English classes and started therapy at La Cocina.
Our hope is for Foothills to identify five additional compas, and to surround each with a support village — in a model we believe could be used across the country. With our partner organization, La Cocina, we are creating volunteer training and will soon invite others to consider joining a similar village. I’ll be in the social hall between the services if you want to learn more.
This has been among the most meaningful work of my life — challenging and personally transformative, as I learn to hold space for folks in difficult circumstances, and how to be helpful — as I experience both powerlessness and privilege in the system, and as I reflect upon my approach and assumptions so I can dismantle, rather than replicate, white supremacy culture.
This month, we ask you to join us in this incredible journey, as we share the plate with this new initiative we call Sanctuary Everywhere. These funds will support compas with some of their expenses, as well the critical clinical support from someone with culturally sensitive trauma expertise.
Everything you place in the basket, or donate through text will be shared equally with this new powerful program of help, and of human connection. Please be generous so that we can keep passing the blessing on.