News for Amigos de Casa San José: June 6, 2020

Dear Amigos de Casa San José,

Welcome back to our email newsletter! Before anything else, we want to thank our wonderful Amigos for their superb response to GIVE BIG PITTSBURGH last month:  we raised over $40,000!  Please see “News on what we’re doing” below to find out how we are using it, and also see this special thank you from us.


Casa San Jose stands in solidarity with the black community and the Black Lives Matter movement to demand justice for George Floyd and the end of systematic racism.  We must stand together as allies with all vulnerable communities, black, brown, LGBTQ, migrants, refugees, women, workers and children.  Take action today by: contacting local officials to demand justicejoining and volunteering with grassroots organizations supporting bail funds to release brave protestors standing up to police violenceparticipating in the week of action led by the Movement for Black Livesfor Pittsburgh-based suggestions, see this excellent list from All for All

Release our loved ones from ICE detention
ICE is holding hundreds of immigrants of all ages simply awaiting their trials – and trying to fight deportation – in coronavirus-ridden detention centers.  Join our partner PICC every Wednesday in June to demand that state and county officials implement a safe and comprehensive plan to release them.  Do it easily and get more info.here.

How you can help:

There is a desperate need for foster parents, especially those who are bilingual in Spanish and English, right now. 
 If anyone you know might be interested or willing to consider this possibility, please connect them to Kate Berson (kate.berson@gmail.com) – or to Gigi D’Amico (ldamico@pressleyridge.org) just to start a conversation. 

Veronica Lozada, Casa’s Community Organizer,
explains how the distribution is working.

News on what we’re doing:

Right now the focus for our community is on survival.  Here’s what we’ve been doing during the pandemic:

  • Giving cash subsidies to families who have lost their jobs and can’t receive federal assistance.  Through very generous donors and foundations, we’ve provided funds to 252 strapped families, with plans on reaching 500!
  • Distributing and delivering thousands of restaurant meals and boxes filled with produce, groceries, supplies, and face masks.
  • Helping hundreds of families apply for rental assistance and housing subsidies.
  • Working with hundreds of kids at home to help them get classroom packets, internet access, online tutors, school lunches, and starting this month, a free virtual summer camp.
  • Posting hundreds of the best Spanish language bulletins, tips, notices, webinars, etc. on Facebook, Instagram, and our website, covering the coronavirus and other survival needs.  With UPMC, we hosted a Facebook Live information session in Spanish on COVID-19, reaching 2600 viewers.
  • Collaborating with a mobile health clinic to provide free COVID-19 testing, and with the US Census to help with census responses, at our food distribution site.
  • Working with our wonderful volunteer attorneys to offer free legal clinics and help with DACA renewals, work permits, court accompaniments, ICE check-ins, documents, etc.  Our immigrant bond fund Fondo Solidario de Pittsburgh has arranged the release of 4 people from ICE detention.
  • Responding all day on our open telephone lines to requests for information and emergency assistance.  We are on-call 24-7 to answer questions about quarantine orders, curfews, eviction moratoriums, ICE detentions and court, and police apprehensions. 

¡¡¡THANK YOU – MIL GRACIAS!!! to SO many kind, giving souls and organizations for making this possible.

Our summer annual event, Fiesta del Sol, is sadly POSTPONED, due to current conditions. 
But we will plan something really special in 2021!!

our story, continued:

After weeks of planning and fundraising, Casa began giving out cash subsidies, similar to the stimulus checks sent to US citizens, to those of our families that aren’t eligible for those and that have the direst need.  We have given $700 apiece to 322 families so far. Monica Ruiz, Casa’s executive director, speaks about the experience:
For me what was important is the fact that these people were deliberately left out of getting help. This community contributes greatly to our society, and the money they put into our neighborhood and our regions is significant. They are not only paying into the tax base and the economy; they are helping to build the fabric of life in Pittsburgh.  So we turned it around, with the help of many generous donors, to provide them close to the kind of assistance that other Americans are getting.  Because they are a strong and enriching part of America too, and are suffering from the pandemic now along with everyone else.

It is important that we give people cash in their hands instead of putting restrictions and limitations on the assistance.  These are adults who have always managed their money, in fact have had to do so in very straightened circumstances.  We want to make this assistance in recognition of their responsibility – with dignity, respect, and fairness.

It is really an honor and a privilege to do this work – to advocate for this relief, to manage its distribution, and to see how much it is appreciated, not only financially but symbolically.  It is greatly heartwarming to know that it was made possible by the foresight and humanity of foundations, government officials, and individuals who truly care.  We thank the City of Pittsburgh Mayor’s Office, twelve different foundations from Pittsburgh and beyond, large and small, and many, many everyday people who stood up for justice and fairness.

We are not only helping people in Allegheny County, we are increasingly reaching out to other counties: Westmoreland, Beaver Butler, Washington, because the Latino communities there are growing and under stress too.   Luckily, Casa San José is set up so if we need to pivot, we can.  We are finding many enthusiastic partners wherever we look. 

We also look forward to the day when this emergency is over, and we can mainly serve our original mission:  to support Latino immigrants’ journey to self-sufficiency and integration into the diverse Pittsburgh and American fabric.  Woven together, we have always been and will always be stronger.

A family makes and donates masks for Casa to distribute.
Learn more:

Vic Walczak, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, describes his extraordinary midnight experience, with a team of lawyers and a judge, saving a a lonely 17-year-old Guatemalan boy without family in Pittsburgh from immediate deportation. 

“Hispanics are almost twice as likely as whites to have lost their jobs amid pandemic, poll finds: 
Black Americans also more likely to be laid off or furloughed since economic shutdowns,”
  Tracy Jan and Scott Clement, Washington Post, May 6.

“U.S. citizen children with undocumented parents unfairly denied coronavirus relief, federal lawsuit asserts,” Spencer Hsu, Washington Post, May 5.

Thank you for joining us, and stay safe and strong.

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