News for Amigos de Casa San José: June 2021

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

How you can help:

By buying tickets to our Fiesta del Sol Basket Raffle! 
And join us on June 18 from 7-9 pm for the
virtual event itself on Facebook Live – click here!

How to take action:

Jo Schlesinger holds her sign: “If you are coming from the border, we can help.”

When asylum-seekers travel through the US by bus to reach their sponsoring families, they arrive at interim bus stations tired and stressed, and without English, money or food. Abuelas Responden/Grannies Respond is a national effort to help them in their travels.  Casa volunteers Jo Schlesinger and Allan Willinger head up the Pittsburgh chapter, and Casa is providing further welcoming and support to those who are staying here.  

Jo and Allan are looking for bus greeters (especially those fluent in Spanish), people to purchase supplies, and donations to buy them.  See www.granniesrespond.org for more information and contact Jo if you’d like to join the Overground Railroad at joschlesinger@verizon.net  412-596-8658.

News on what we’re doing:

Our Vaccination Campaign: so far, Casa has helped over 2500 people in Allegheny, Beaver, and Lawrence Counties get vaccinated. 

  • Most recently, we held 3 clinics in May and will have 3 mobile clinics in June in collaboration with our partners PHDC, UPMC, the Governors Advisory Commission of Latino Affairs, Curative, and Central Outreach Wellness Center.
  • In our outreach to Beaver and Lawrence Counties we are spreading the good word about vaccines and conquering doubts and fears.
  • We also arranged many appointments in other health centers where Casa provides assistance, interpretation, and personalized transportation services (with bilingual drivers.)  
  • We joined the United Against COVID Campaign to develop graphic and video material in Spanish for our community with the help of MEE Productions.  Dr. Diego Chaves-Gnecco explains facts about vaccines and how to protect yourself if you are an essential worker. Watch them here!
  • Casa partnered with Age-Friendly, Free the Vaccine, and Lively Pittsburgh, to bring some fun and joy to clinics all around the city.  In our latest vaccination clinic wth UPMC, people loved the Latino music, popsicles, and photo booths. Participants shared why they were getting vaccinated and how
  • they were feeling about it.

Youth programs:  Great news about Campamento Sonrisa, our summer camp:  Tuesdays and Thursdays will be in-person days!  Amanda and José are so happy that they will be able to take the kids to parks and playing fields.  Families are signing up now for both the Beechview (6/21-7/15) and East Liberty (8/2-8/26) locations.  Our Puentes Hacia el Futuro kids are learning about art, design, and 3D printing with Jorge and Marisol from the University of Pittsburgh, who are using their Year of Engagement Grant to do this.

We are delighted to welcome new staff members Dora Tenjo and Jenny Díaz to our team! They are our new Emergency Case Workers;  Dora will be working with cases inside Allegheny County and Jenny is working with cases outside the County.

As always, we have been covering important topics on our Tardes con Casa Facebook Live shows in May and June. The latest featured Jamaal Craig and Moira Kaleida, Congressional staffers for PA House Rep. Jessica Benham, speaking and answering questions on how our government operates. May’s feature had Alicia Anguiano from Justice at Work covering immigrants’ rights

Laura and our Rapid Response team are helping families comply with ICE check-ins. There are many new arrivals of asylum-seekers who need to report.  But the re-opening of the ICE office on the South Side has been partial and confusing, and their officers are giving people conflicting information. Casa is providing translation assistance, accurate information, transportation, and some relief from the anxiety this is causing.

Laura has also been working with Rafael Bullones from the Community Justice Project, the Bucket Bail Fund, and Atty. Paul Jubas to assist a couple who were evicted abruptly and harassed by their landlord, who had the police arrest the husband. They now have another apartment, their household goods returned, and electricity restored (with help from Dora, our Emergency Case Worker.) The husband was released on bail and is being represented by an attorney, though the landlord didn’t show up at the hearing. The wife (in photo) has asked Laura how she can help others in need.

Clases de Cocina Saludable/Healthy Cooking Classes have 15 community cooks enrolled who want to serve their families healthy meals.  Teaching the classes virtually in Spanish are Donna and Sophia, graduate students at The University of Pittsburgh’s Dietitian Nutritionist Program.  Today’s dish is Tacos de Tofu, which Veronica promises will be “¡super rico!”  You too can learn how to make them here.

Our story, continued:

Sweet Dreams/Sueños Dulces

Jazmín started learning about baking at 7 years old, as she helped her father, a baker, by carrying baskets of traditional pastries through their hometown of Sultepec, Mexico. She loved everything about it.  Eventually she also learned about the business of baking, which she and her husband José are now undertaking here in Pittsburgh.

After marrying in Mexico, she and José tried to use their university degrees to begin careers, and when that didn’t work, they started a bakery of their own. But they found it impossible to get ahead in that suffering economy.  So, they came to Pittsburgh in 2018 to find a way to prosper.  They took jobs in the food industry, and started life in Beechview with their 2 daughters, now 5 and 7.  Here they met Sr. Janice and Veronica, and through Casa San José soon made use of the ESL programs, schools, summer camp, Know Your Rights sessions, health centers, housing guidance, and other services that solved problems, gave them confidence and opened doors. 

They were ready to start working on the dream of their own bakery that would share the deliciousness of traditional Mexican breads and pastries with the Pittsburgh public.  Then they met Brent Rondon, an expert in small business development at the Univ. of Pittsburgh.  He guided them through business planning, regulations, certifications, and marketing and sales strategies.  They used the gorgeous colors and designs of Mexican artistry to enhance their spaces, and tracked down authentic ingredients from Ohio and Chicago.

Now living in Dormont, Jazmín and José are focused on two things:  a bright future for their two daughters, and a bustling bakery to support the family and share the taste of their unique Mexican heritage. Jazmín feels that in Pittsburgh her family has found a kind and supportive community.  She hopes to see them at the farmers’ market, and also that they will be able to visit her in a full-size bakery soon.

You can get individual sweet breads or a sampler at the Panadería Jazmín booth every Saturday through October at the Mt. Lebanon Uptown Market on Washington Road, 9am-12 Noon. There are plans for becoming vendors at other farmers’ markets this summer.  You can also make special orders by contacting Jazmín by direct message on their beautiful Facebook pageInstagram, or calling 412-595-6880. You can find out about coming locations at @panaderiajazminpgh.  

Thank you for joining us!

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