“… With our children we moved too slowly & were abandoned by the coyote”

We continue our desperately-needed mutual aid programs amidst these challenges, thanks to the help of so many committed volunteers and your much-needed support. A very generous donor offered to match up to $50,000 in contributions so we hope the following brief stories will inspire you to make a meaningful gift as it it will now have twice the impact.

At our November food distribution in Spring Valley, we were approached by several recently-arrived families. Among them was Maria G., a single mother with her children, including a 3-year old, all wearing summer clothes. It was cold and they had no jackets, so staff member Ana Maeda brought Maria’s family, along with another mother and daughter, back to her house. We gave them food boxes and made an appointment for them to come to the free store a few days later. Because they urgently needed winter clothes and volunteers were unavailable to help with transportation, we sent a taxi to be sure Maria could get to Stony Point. When she arrived, we helped her find warm clothes and shoes. We provided her with more food and added her name to the list for the following Monday’s fresh food distribution, which a volunteer then delivered to the place they’re staying.

On November 23, we connected with an immigrant family of three whose Spring Valley residence had a fire. They were left with nothing. Luisa Izaguiarre (a Rockland 21C staff member who, in partnership with the North Rockland School District, dedicates several hours a week to Proyecto Faro) helped the family find clothes and kitchen supplies in our free store.

A few days later, another family, recently arrived from Ecuador, called to ask for help because they had nothing to start their new life here. Nancy P., the mother, described the trauma she experienced during her journey to the U.S. They crossed through very dangerous places, terrified by the close proximity of predators like mountain lions. Traveling with their 2-year old and disabled, partially blind 8-year old, they were unable to walk quickly enough and the coyote abandoned them. They dealt with terrible hunger and despair but thankfully found other immigrants, enabling them to survive. Luisa offered them transportation to and from the free store, and helped Nancy find clothes for her family, and provided them with

Image courtesy of Ricardo Levins Morales

food. We also put her in contact with a health care provider for their child. Nancy cried and said she was deeply moved by our support during a frightening time of upheaval and need.Ernes, his wife, and their two-year old came to the U.S., escaping violence in Haiti and then being forced out of Chile. He came to our legal empowerment clinic where he worked with Sherly Fabre, our staff-member who is also from Haiti. We were able to help Ernes not just with his asylum case but also with food and items from our free store. Ernes expressed his extreme gratitude for P.F., saying he felt very supported after experiencing so much hostility, fear, uncertainty, and danger.

While these families have a lot to figure out as they settle in and rebuild their lives, thanks to donors like you, we were able to provide them with vitally needed resources and morale support. We will continue to work with them in this process, and hope when they’re able, they will, like many others, join our collective efforts to improve the lives of and achieve justice and safety for immigrants in Rockland and beyond.

Recently, we’ve been seeing an uptick in domestic violence cases. In addition to our existing programs, we’ll be collaborating with the Center for Safety and Change to prevent domestic and sexual violence and provide resources, referrals, and advocacy to survivors. We’re also partnering with Rockland United Way on a community education project focused on health literacy, self-empowerment, and English

language learning. We plan to do a lot more leadership development, consciousness-raising, and organizing training in the new year. Our big Excluded Workers Fund technical assistance grant ended but we want to continue providing Rocklands’ immigrants with necessary resources and empowerment opportunities. Your support is truly needed and its impact is felt.

In December, we held a volunteer appreciation event and heard from many attendees how inspiring it was to meet many people they didn’t know, who volunteer in our different programs. It’s exciting for us to see so many people finding meaning and new community through Proyecto Faro’s work. Though Rockland’s immigrants face many difficulties and hundreds of new families are arriving every day only with the clothes on their backs, we believe there are many reasons for hope, the main one being allies like you. Will you help us sustain our work to provide a life-line, extending that hope to these families, and help us match this $50,000 challenge gift? Can you become a monthly donor or increase your pledge if you already are? Will you make a meaningful one-time gift?

With so much gratitude and solidarity,
Charo Ureña for the whole Proyecto Faro team