News for Amigos de Casa San José – Dec. 22, 2020

Dear Amigos de Casa San José,
Welcome back to our email newsletter!

How you can help:

Here is a wonderful family project for the holidays!  We are delivering emergency supplies to our families that are quarantining with COVID, and especially need hygiene and cleaning products.  Each household gets a bag containing disinfecting wipes, hand sanitizer, disposable facemasks, laundry detergent, toothpaste, body wash, shampoo, and similar items. Your family could order the items and pack them in bags for us to deliver along with the boxes of foods and provisions we are preparing for them.  You could decorate the bags with your own message!  For details and a specific list, please contact veronica@casasanjose.org.

How to take action:

The Driving PA Forward Campaign has been one of our biggest advocacy efforts this year. Having a driver’s license would transform the lives of many in our community, reducing the danger of deportation and expanding work opportunities.  Our bill, HB2835, didn’t pass in 2020, despite having 30 co-sponsors in the PA legislature including the Republican chair of the Transportation Committee.  We will reintroduce it again in 2021, and we need your help to join this effort. 
To get regular updates for the campaign please sign our petition and be added to our email list. For more information, read “Harrisburg backs creation of state law that allows undocumented immigrants to have driver’s licenses.”

News on what we’re doing:

COVID is front and center:
Along with thousands of others in Allegheny County, many of our families are testing positive and are in great distress.  When the disease and quarantine strike, most of them have no savings, sick days, or income.  Casa is responding to this demand with many forms of emergency assistance (see Our Story below for details), through home deliveries, transportation, vital information, referrals, and financial and emotional support. 

DACA is back!
After years of advocacy, organizing, and legal action, a federal judge in NY issued a ruling on Friday, Dec. 4th that restores DACA. USCIS issued guidance on Mon. Dec. 7th stating that it will follow the court ruling. This is a huge win for immigrant communities and young people.  New applications will be accepted and limited renewals can be extended.  Here at Casa, Laura is coordinating free consultations with immigration attorneys, and assistance with application fees. If you know anyone who may be eligible, please have them contact her at laura@casasanjose.org. 

FREE Pediatric and Legal Clinics in the North Hills: 
Thanks to the partnership between Casa San Jose and UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, starting Nov. 30, we have been offering free appointments for our Latinx children living near Casa’s Ambridge office, which is directed by Milena. The mobile clinic has been held twice so far, and 12 children have attended consultations with Dr. Diego Chaves-Gnecco, who has been offering his “Salud Para Niños” clinics since 2002. 
Once a week in the last month, the Ambridge office has also been providing free zoom legal consultations with attorneys and an interpreter from the Christian Immigration Advocacy Center of Pittsburgh, providing 16 of our clients with evaluations of their immigration cases.  They will continue in January.

Welcome to Jannette Castro González, our new Mental Health and Bond Fund Coordinator! 
She comes to Casa from Puerto Rico, with degrees in Criminal Justice and in Family and Child Counseling. She has worked in mental health treatment programs, with homeless populations, and at the Puerto Rican Dept. of Justice. Since she joined us in October, she has connected more than 25 members of our community with resources in their language. 

Our Youth:
In our youth programming, our group for younger kids, Puentes Hacía el Futuro, has been (virtually) experiencing Música con Marina, designing a dream house with Assemble, and life and soccer lessons with Open Field.  Our teens in Jóvenes con Propósito learned about archeology and the Meadowcroft Rockshelter with Dr. Sarah, their higher education options and financial aid with AJ and Sophia from JFCS, and creating music through coding with Assemble.  You can check out their tracks here!

Mil Gracias to all who gave during Give Big Pittsburgh!!
Because of you, we raised more than $58,000!  And this number keeps increasing as our platform is open until December 31st.  Your generosity is so appreciated, by all of us at Casa and especially by the more than 1600 family members in our community who will find services, support and care to help them live full, healthy and safe lives here in the Pittsburgh region.

Winter coat and christmas gift delivery: 
We are delivering 186 toys and coats collected by St. Paul’s Episcopal Church for our families.  Jennifer and our volunteers are the Santas and Elves.  

Our story, continued:

As COVID spreads widely in Allegheny County, Casa is responding rapidly to the increasing number of coronavirus emergencies in our community.  When the disease and quarantine strike, most of our families have no savings, sick days, or income.
Here’s what happens.  When someone calls with symptoms, we find the most available testing location.  When they test positive, first Efraín, our wonderful “COVID consultant” volunteer, immediately calls them to provide, in Spanish, vital information about the disease, its treatment, protocols, and safety measures.  He also learns the family’s specific needs, and offers comfort and assurance.
Then Veronica goes into action to make emergency provisions arrive within 24 hours.  She finds out what is most needed and appropriate.  She and her volunteers fill 4 boxes for each household – with nonperishable staples (like rice, pasta, canned fruits and vegetables, shelf-stable milk), fresh produce (like salad, citrus fruit, carrots, potatoes), perishable staples (like bread, eggs, chicken, meat, milk), and hygiene and cleaning products (like masks, wipes, toilet paper, body wash, toothbrushes, detergent) – enough for 2 weeks. They then do a no-contact delivery.  Casa also provides gift cards, deliveries from Aldi’s, and other emergency needs for those who can’t leave their homes.
In some dire cases, a staff member simply responds immediately. Sr. Janice recently got a call from a panicked mother who got an electric bill she couldn’t pay.  It turned out that the father, right after a serious surgery, had been sent to the ICU with COVID. The family members all tested positive, and the mother was very sick too.  The whole family was in quarantine without any resources, and afraid their power would be cut off.
Sr. Janice brought them food right away, and Casa paid the electric bill. And when a volunteer offered her help, Sr. Janice asked her to purchase items that the family most needed and deliver them to their front porch.  She rushed to do it, but would accept no reimbursement from Casa, saying “The Lord is good, and I’m delighted to help a family as my own family was once helped by others.” A few days ago, the father came home from the hospital, and hopefully the whole family has bridged this crisis and is in recovery.

Learn more:

“Pittsburgh’s Latino immigrant community reacts to Biden’s win with optimism, realism,” Julia Maruca, Pittsburgh City Paper, Dec. 2.

“Why millions of Americans still can’t get coronavirus relief funds,” Julia Preston, The Marshall Project, Dec. 15.  “Filing taxes with an undocumented immigrant means the whole family loses out on payment.”

You can listen here to Executive Director Monica and County Councilwomen Olivia Bennett and Bethany Hallam discuss the current proposal for a County-wide Police Review Board, which was approved as a referendum in the November election.

Leave a Reply