News for Amigos de Casa San José: March 19, 2021

Dear Amigos de Casa San José,

Welcome back to our email newsletter!

How to take action:

How to take action:

Dismantling ICE in PA: 

  • The families in Berks have finally been released, but ICE may still re-use the facility for more detentions.  We join the #ShutDownBerks Coalition in asking the Biden administration to cut ICE’s contract with Berks. Please send an email using this sample text and contact information.
  • More ideas in the Dismantling ICE Toolkit from the PA Immigration and Citizenship Coalition.
  • If you’re interested in getting involved in these efforts locally, please email Laura@casasanjose.org.

Family Immigration Week of Action! 3/29-4/2:  Casa San José is joining APALA in a critical fight to protect immigrant families, asking Congress to provide a path to citizenship and keep families together.  Find more information, and sign up here

Driving PA Forward, the essential effort to allow undocumented immigrants to get driver’s licenses is active now in the PA legislature16 states in the US already allow this. If you live in State Rep. Lori Mizgorksi’s district (Glenshaw, Allison Park, Hampton Township, O’Hara Township, Wildwood, Gibsonia, Bakerstown, parts of Fox Chapel), please contact her to ask her to support HB 279, the bill that will do this.  Here is the way to find out if she is your legislator, her contact information is here, and more information about this issue is here.  Watch this video with our community member Aurora explaining how crucial this is.  And if you would like to get more involved in this vital campaign, please contact billy@casasanjose.org.

How you can help:

If you have immigrated to the US and have a child who is in grades K – 12 in Pennsylvania, the PA Immigration and Citizenship Coalition would like to hear from you.  PICC is surveying immigrant parents to gather data on how welcoming schools are to their families, particularly regarding language access.  It is anonymous and confidential. Please fill out their survey if you qualify.  PICC will use the data to promote schools that will be open and friendly to all. 
And anyone can support the campaign!  Here is more information.

News on what we’re doing:

Vaccinations:  Our major push in the last month is to get vaccinations to as many members of our community who are eligible.  Claudia Sanchez, our new Healthcare Navigator hit the ground running by organizing Casa’s effort to get hundreds of eligible community members their first vaccines. By partnering with UPMC, Allegheny Health Network, East Liberty Family Health Center, and the Allegheny County Dept. of Health, so far Casa has arranged for 850 shots, with many more families becoming eligible soon.  Getting vaccinated has been especially difficult for non-English speakers, people without cars, and the elderly, so Casa staff and our wonderful volunteers also provide transportation, interpretation onsite, and scheduling.  Explaining how vaccines work in Spanish is important to convince those who are hesitant, so our social media postings are vital.  Hear or read Claudia’s interview on WESA’s The Confluence here (starts at minute 12:30.)

New Healthy Nutrition Program started this month:
Casa is partnering with the Dietitian Nutritionist Program at the Univ. of Pittsburgh School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences to teach healthy nutrition practices. We started on March 15 with the first of our monthly virtual cooking classes in Spanish on how to prepare a healthy family meal.  20 family cooks attended, and stirred and sautéed along with the class, showing their accomplishments at the end!  Also, each week the student dietitians will provide 2 healthy and easy-to-follow recipes in Spanish based on items in our food boxes – they will be distributed together every Wednesday from Casa’s emergency food pantry. 

Youth Activities: March is National Reading Month, and our younger kids in Puentes Hacía el Futuro have been writing stories.  See “Our Story” below for their latest about the adventures of Isabela Mariposa!
Our high schoolers in Jóvenes al Propósito, meeting on Saturdays, are finishing up their cooking sessions with Chef Victoria.  Lately they have been learning and discussing on Astrology, Habits, and “Artivism”, which is the practice of Art meant to provoke Action. 

Building a Movement for Health, Human Rights & Racial Justice with our youth
Members of Casa San José’s FLY Program took part virtually in the Pittsburgh Racial Justice Summit on Jan. 23.  Speaking on a panel on Human Rights, they talked about why they joined FLY, what human rights mean to them, and why those rights are the key to their generation’s future. Watch it here! 

We are creating and posting Spanish-language video tutorials:

Expanding our reach:  in addition to satellite offices in East Liberty and Beaver County, we are providing services to new Latino families in Butler and Westmoreland Counties.  Sister Janice has been coordinating services for those who call Casa San José but do not live in Allegheny County, connecting them with partner agencies and volunteers that can navigate their unique county systems.

Veronica Lozada has a new role at Casa – she is now the Deputy Director of Programs and Community Engagement.  ¡Felicitaciones, Vero!

Welcome to our new staff – we are so fortunate they have joined the Casa family:
(see this link for their bios)Sebastian Garetto – Operations and Finance Manager
Teresa Parra – Office Administrator, Beechview office
Jannette Castro – Mental Health and Bond Fund Coordinator
William Reeves – Community Organizer
Amanda Welby – Youth Services Director
Claudia Sanchez – Healthcare Navigator
Constanza Arena – Office Administrator, Ambridge office
Grace McHale – ISAC Service Coordinator

Ongoing: Casa’s free legal clinics, ESL classes, and Know Your Rights sessions have continued all through the pandemic in virtual form.  Casa’s livestreamed Tardes con Casa has recently featured Rafael Bullones from the Community Justice Project explaining how to test for lead in the home and resources to remove it, and Rebecca Garcia from the Women’s Center and Shelter speaking on love and respect in teen relationships.

Our story, continued:

Amanda and José have been helping the younger children with reading by making it fun. They discovered that one way was to have a group creative writing session, with all the kids contributing ideas.  After hearing the fable of the Tortoise and the Hare, they composed this story. (This was written in Spanish but has been translated for this newsletter.)

The Adventures of Isabela Mariposa
by Natalia, Allyson, Stephanny, Iris, Christian and John

This was the story about a girl (Isabela Mariposa) who lived with her grandmother in a very large house. One day the grandmother went out for a walk and a giant tortoise appeared to her that was very hungry.

The girl was 11 years old and had to start looking for work to buy food, and one day on her way to the big city she found the White House. She became friends with President Obama who was very good and gave her a trip to Paris and from there she went to England where the prince (he was very handsome) fell in love with her, but in reality she was in love with her neighbor from when she lived in Pittsburgh.

She stayed in England and married the prince, and found a puppy that they called “Snowflake” and little by little the family grew and they had 2 children and she realized that she was not in love with the prince, and continued to miss her neighbor.
And then … something happened.

She was visiting Pittsburgh and when she went to buy food from the Giant Eagle, she met her neighbor Alejandro. And they agreed to go out to dinner, to a FETA restaurant!  Alejandro had never eaten feta, but he turned out to be allergic to feta. So when they were about to kiss, Alejandro died.

After that happened, she returned to England very sad and never returned to Pittsburgh.  A lot of time passed, and her children grew up, her daughter had her 15th birthday party, and she wanted to go to Mexico to visit her mother’s family. Then she was sad for a long time because she missed the opportunity to spend time with Alejandro and she missed him a lot.

The lesson of this story is to cherish time with the people we love while we can.

Learn more:

House Votes to Give Millions of Dreamers and Farmworkers a Path to Citizenship“, Nicholas Fandos, New York Times, March 18.

“Real needs, not fictitious crises account for the situation at the US-Mexico border”, Donald Kerwin, Center for Migration Studies, March 17.  Excellent summary of what is happening now and what has led up to it.

“The race to dismantle Trump’s immigration policies,” Sarah Stillman, The New Yorker, Feb. 1. “Trump transformed immigration through hundreds of quiet measures. Before they can be reversed, they have to be uncovered.”

“Meet Ben Gutschow, a youth activist working for social justice,” Rege Behe, Next Pittsburgh, Feb. 23. Ben is a Community Organizer at Casa San José.

”Families Are Free, But the Fight To Shut Down Berks Is Not Over”, Shut Down Berks Coalition, Feb. 26.  “The decision by ICE to release families is the direct result of the persistence of grassroots organizing, starting with the efforts of detained families themselves, and supported by immigrant-led organizations, legal organizations, and other community members continually applying pressure for the release of families and closing of the prison.”

Thank you for joining us!

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