It goes without saying that refugees and immigrants need our help now more than ever. It’s heartbreaking to see them treated so poorly lately.
My guess is most people that make blanket statements like “we don’t want them here” have probably never had personal relationships with refugees or immigrants.
In my experience, they are some of the hardest working, most interesting, most grateful people you’ll ever meet.
Take Victor, for example, who is a local construction worker from Mexico I’ve gotten to know. You won’t find a harder worker. When I have construction work to send him I text him in my broken spanish and he literally will be over to work as soon as possible, even if he already worked a full day at his day job. He’s tireless and always thankful for the work.
Or Goshen, a refugee who works out of our coworking office. He’s 25 now and had to leave the Congo at 12 without his parents just to be safe. He didn’t see his mom for over 12 years because she was unable to get approval to come to the US. (until 5 months ago!) He is working nonstop trying to make his dream of being a videographer and photographer come true.
Or Manuel, the immigrant that my parents were nice enough to take into our home when I was in high school. He lived with an abusive father and was in a special ed class at school just because he didn’t speak English! Once he was given the chance that comes with a stable home life he graduated high school, worked harder than anyone I’d ever seen and jumped through hoops to get his citizenship. Which he did! (And by the way, when he got it he disappeared that night.. returning the next day with bleeding feet. We asked where he went and what happened to him? He explained he promised God he would climb the Organ mountains behind our house in NM if he got his citizenship…and he’d do it completely barefoot! So he did it. In case you think these were just some little hills I’m talking about here is a picture of the Organ mountains.)
That’s what the opportunity of the U.S. meant to him, he was willing to climb these mountains barefoot to give thanks.
From my experience their stories are all different but some story lines are consistent; they risk it all and they work harder than those of us born in the US ever will to have just a shot at a good living and a stable life for their family.
So it’s these personal relationships that I’ve had that make it impossible for me to listen to someone, especially the leader of our country, bash immigrants and refugees with blanket statements that paint them as anything less than the rest of us.
What did we do to deserve to live in this country? We were born here, which is completely out of our control. It’s obviously nothing we could take credit for in any way. We hit the “ovarian lottery” as Warren Buffet calls it.
So if you agree with the sentiment that refugees and immigrants deserve better let’s get back to the title of this post…two easy ways to help our local refugees and immigrants.
1- The first thing you can do is help Jessica Ennis who has had enough of what’s happening and wants to get personally involved. Jessica is a Stapleton resident and Scoop blog contributor. She created a Facebook group for families who want to get more involved in the political process with their children. The first event is geared towards refugees and will be held on Sunday, Feb. 12 at Progress Coworking in NW Aurora. Parents will write letters to elected officials while their children create cards for 115 local refugees from Iraq and Afghanistan, most of whom previously served our American troops! In addition to the cards, the group is accepting donations of diapers, paper towels, toilet paper and cleaning supplies for the families at the event or at Northfield Veterinary Hospital and Stapleton Children’s Dentistry. Join the closed Facebook group called Stapleton Love Letters and Grassroots Activism to learn more details and RSVP for the event.
2- The second thing you can do is help Street Fraternity by making donations for a small renovation project at their local facility where they serve mostly refugees. “Street Frat” is a non profit on East Colfax that feeds about 30 young refugee men dinner each day Monday – Thursday. They also provide a safe place for the young men to study, workout, play ping pong, meditate, make music, learn life skills & more! All of this is done in a building on East Colfax that is starting to look a little rough inside. (you know how your few kids tear up your home…picture 30 teenage boys coming over every day for hours to hang out and eat dinner! Yeah…it’s taking a beating!) I think if we can help them replace the flooring and paint the interior the place will look much better. I think that’s important because if it becomes too run down it’s not an uplifting, encouraging place any more for the young men. I bet we could make a big difference with $5k – $7k for a renovation. I’ll line up the work with contractors we use if we can raise the funds as a community. All checks can be made out to Street Fraternity with “flooring and paint” written in the memo line. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to get the address where to send the check. Here is a previous post about Street Fraternity if you’d like to learn more.
Are these two things going to change the lives of refugees and immigrants drastically? No, not alone they won’t. But the silver lining of this political mess going on lately is people are getting involved in small ways which will add up to big changes. What’s clear is that we can’t just sit around, do nothing and complain. That’s not cutting it anymore.
Don’t get down on the situation, there are always challenges in life that feel too big to change. We have to find a way to contribute, no matter how small it feels, otherwise we’ll never even get started. If one of these opportunities is the right fit for you then we’d love your help.