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News for Amigos de Casa San José – Nov. 27, 2020

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

How you can help:

 Tuesday, Dec. 1 is Give Big Pittsburgh donation day!  
Your generosity makes our work possible, and provides essential sustenance, opportunity, justice and respect to struggling immigrant families throughout the Pittsburgh region.  Thank you for always coming through for us!
Our goal this year is $50,000 – and we have a wonderful head start:  a $15,000 challenge grant from a private foundation: donate early and your contribution will be doubled!  
Please donate here on Tuesday, the day of the event (don’t worry, we will send a short reminder on that day 😉.)   Or become a fundraising champion for Casa!  Here are the instructions. 

And help everyone stay safe during this pandemic emergency:
From the PA Department of Health:  The safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving is to celebrate at home with the people you live with. Gatherings with family and friends who do not live with you can increase the chances of getting or spreading COVID-19 or the flu. We encourage you to follow the suggestions from the CDCFor more information, please visit www.pa.gov/covid.

News on what we’re doing:

 Thanks to our participation in Pennsylvania’s Department of Health COVID-19 Campaign and with our other health partners,we have been educating our community in every way possible the urgency of following COVID protocols, how to prevent infection, how to access testing and treatment, what to teach children about it, how to recognize symptoms, and answering many, many related questions. Andrea has been arranging hundreds of posts and videos on social media platforms.

Through a wonderful partnership with Duquesne University’s Center for Global Engagement, we have been teaching ESL to over 100 adult students via virtual classes, based at our East Liberty office.  That office, run by Ruth, has also been delivering school meals and providing transportation for medical, housing and food-related needs.

Our new Ambridge office, under Milena’s direction, has been busy providing a flu shot clinic and delivering donated furniture, besides providing food, school, health, and translation assistance to a growing number of families in the area. 

Diana and Jose have been assisting hundreds of students in their required home-based schooling and learning, by providing laptops and hotspots, arranging for virtual tutors, fixing technology problems, providing a liaison with the public schools, offering activities and tutoring via our Puentes Hacia el Futuro program for younger chlidren, leadership training through our Jovenes con Proposito program for high schoolers, and even some Halloween fun.  

In September, Veronica launched, with all COVID protocols, our Supplemental Healthy Nutrition Program to improve physical health.  The program provides 90 families with fresh healthy food choices from our on-site pantry along with advice on nutrition and food preparation. 

Veronica has also reached out to the community and established a program for developing professional sewing skills. Each member is provided with a sewing machine, materials and hands-on training on how to operate the equipment. The group has met weekly to work on team projects. (Due to the increased COVID-19 warnings, group meetings have been suspended temporarily.)

After several months of work, several of our interns created an information-packed Welcome Packet for newcomers – an illustrated booklet explaining the basic customs, laws, maps and services of their new country and their new city.


 And as always, our case workers, Anna, Monique, and Elia have been assisting hundreds of social service and emergency cases. Laura and the Emergency Response Volunteers have been accompanying people to their ICE check-ins or court dates.  In October alone, our receptionist Jennifer helped 213 people over the phone with referrals and information.  We have also been working to promote census participation, driver’s licenses for immigrants, and the closing of the Berks Detention Center.  And our bond fund continues to release detainees to allow them to await their immigration trials outside of prison.  

Casa has been busy, even in a pandemic!

Last spring, as COVID started having its major impact, we listed some of the ways it affected our community.  Now, 7 months later, all of these crises have only deepened:

  • Before COVID-19, the situation for immigrants was precarious at best. Now the livelihoods and incomes that kept families afloat are disappearing.
  • Food and sanitation supplies are hard to obtain, money has evaporated and bills are piling up. 
  • Computer access – a lifeline now – is spotty or nonexistent.
  • Children can no longer get most of the learning and sustenance that schools provide
  • Relatives are locked inside detention facilities that are hotbeds for COVID-19 infection.
  • Landlords are evicting immigrant families who they assume aren’t eligible for non-eviction policies.
  • Transportation is scarce or unsafe.
  • ICE is still an ever-present threat. 
  • And despite being significant taxpayers, our community members receive no federal relief benefits. 

Learn more:

“Undocumented and Pregnant: Why Women Are Afraid to Get Prenatal Care”, Caitlin Dickerson, New York Times, Nov. 22.  The Trump administration’s expansion of “public charge” limits has created “an escalating climate of fear that is having disastrous consequences for the health of pregnant women and their babies.”

“Casa Community:  When unprecedented hardship struck Pittsburgh’s Latino population, Pitt alumna Monica Ruiz took action”, Susan Weidel, Pitt Magazine, Fall 2020. 

Join ARYSE and Casa San Jose for a series of 3 virtual film screening events to showcase films created by the New Immigrant and Refugee Visions (NIRV) project. The events will be held on Zoom from 6:30 – 8 pm on Tuesday, November 24th, Tuesday, December 1st, and Tuesday, December 8th.  Free tickets are here.

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