News For Amigos De Casa San Jose: August 2021

Welcome to our August, 2021 email newsletter!

Dear Amigos de Casa San José, 

How to take action:

Some good news: the effort in the PA legislature to provide driver’s licenses for all keeps moving forward, recently with a successful hearing at the Transportation Committee on Aug. 11. But it still needs more voices.  Please join Casa in continuing to call on our congresspersons to support HB279 via email, letters, and social media. It’s so easy to do – see the guide here.  Or contribute to Driving PA Forward here.
And for more details on the MANY reasons to support this bill, in addition to the great relief and aid it will give to our immigrant community – see a full report here.

How you can help:

At our Tuesday vaccination clinics, we are distributing both Ear Loop Disposable Face Masks and Travel Size Hand Sanitizers and we could use more of these.  To donate them, please stop by the Beechview office (2116 Broadway, 412-343-3111) any Tuesday between 9 and 2.  Also much appreciated are oral health and hygiene items (like soap, toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo) in quantity.  These will be shared with our families in all our locations.

News on what we’re doing:

The fight against COVID-19: Over 3000 individuals have been vaccinated so far due to Casa’s many efforts, and 50 people have been tested at our site. At our Beechview office, Casa San José offers a COVID-19 vaccination clinic every Tuesday from 9 to 12, and a testing site every Friday from 9-12.

Casa San Jose has been selected to participate in the UPMC Health Plan COVID-19 Vaccine Education Campaign. We are part of a competent and diverse cohort of outstanding organizations that will help to execute a bilingual, educational marketing campaign that aims to overcome vaccine hesitancy in the state’s most vulnerable communities.

UPMC Health Plan shares : Vaccines are safe and they work1,2

All of the COVID-19 vaccines went through extensive safety monitoring, and each had large clinical trials. Each developer followed safety protocols, including human testing.

The results are being monitored to ensure ongoing safety. There can be some minor side effects and, very rarely, more serious ones. However, the risks of the vaccine are much lower than the risks of a COVID-19 infection. Side effects may include pain and swelling where you got the shot. They may also include fever, chills, fatigue, and headache. These should go away in a few days. Some people have no side effects. 

Getting vaccinated can prevent severe illness, hospitalization, and death. It may also help protect those around you. 

See how many people have been vaccinated in the U.S.


1 Safety of COVID-19 vaccines. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Updated May 10, 2021. Accessed May 24, 2021. cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/safety/safety-of-vaccines.html

Ensuring COVID-19 vaccines work. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Updated May 11, 2021. Accessed May 24, 2021. cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/effectiveness.html

As part of our continued efforts to motivate community members to become vaccinated, CSJ continues being part of the PA Department of Health COVID-19 Vaccine Campaign! 
 The PA Dept. of Health shares the following message: Ready? It’s your turn! Pennsylvania wants to help you get vaccinated. Ask about their vaccination plan and if they need help. Remind them that vaccines are giving us a path back to our lives. 

#PAAgainstCOVID #WeHaveThePowerPA

Our 2 camps, Campamento Sonrisa and Campamento Alegría, have provided enormous fun and joy for our campers and also for the staff, interns, and volunteers!  Starting on June 21, about 60 campers based in Beechview, East Liberty, and Cranberry Township filled the summer days with arts and crafts, music, learning activities, field games, nature walks, kayaking, swimming and splashing.  

Half of camp was online, and for the other half they visited parks and playgrounds, the Highland Park pool, Meadowcroft, the Pittsburgh Zoo, the Carnegie Science Center and Museums of Natural History and Art. They learned architecture with CMU students, cooking and nutrition with Chef Victoria of Common Threads, forestry with Tree PGH, Spanish with Brenda Solkez, archeology with Dr. Sarah, yoga with Shannon Finley. Don’t miss watching this drumming session taught by Cuban percussionist Hugo Cruz.  There’s more about our summer camps in the story below.

Sixteen teens in our youth-led F.L.Y. (Future of Latino Youth) group held their second two-day seminar retreat, mainly outdoors at the beautiful Eden Hall Campus of Chatham University.  They joined in activities around leadership and activism along with lessons on the cycle of oppression and the intersectionality of identity, and also had some fun with camping, tie-dying and a ropes course.

One responsibility for our Emergency Response Team is accompanying people to their court appearances at the ICE field office on Sidney St. in the South Side.  On a day last week Laura, Casa’s Emergency Response Organizer, attended 2 juvenile court hearings, one for a 16-year-old, and the other for a 4-year old (whose Mom was there too.) 
Because there are no court personnel in Pittsburgh, this was all done via video with Judge Annie Garcy in Philadelphia.  Laura helped the clients sign in, explained what to expect when they saw the judge, helped them identify their A (immigrant ID) number, handed them the paperwork the judge asked them to fill out, shared Casa’s list of trusted attorneys, showed them how to update their addresses with the courts, etc.  She cleared up confusion about where their next hearing would be. 

We are excited to announce that Casa is collaborating with Block Chronicles to launch the Pittsburgh Latinx Artist Residency program; a 10-month opportunity for emerging Latinx artists in Allegheny County, who will receive support in career development and sustainability. Five artists working across any discipline will be selected to participate in the residency, which will begin October 1, 2021 and end July 31, 2022. Here is more information and the application form – applications are accepted August 13 to Sept. 15 only, so check it out now!

Save the date: Wed., September 15, 6-9 PM at The Union Project, 801 N Negley Avenue Pittsburgh, PA 15206. Casa San José and Andrés Tapia-Urzua invite you to a screening of  “Latino Americans Pittsburgh” – a series of video documentaries representing the Latino community in our region, and a reception with food and music.  Register here!  Thanks to the Heinz Endowments for their support.

Our story continued:

There has been so much excitement, discovery and friendship at our camps this summer.  13-year-old Keneth from Guatemala had never been to a zoo and was amazed to see a gorilla.  6-year-old Maxi from Venezuela was a little shy, so his Mom came along, but when he found himself in Hugo’s drumming class, he came to life, already knowing the rhythms, asking to play the guiro, calling out the counts.  Yoga teacher Shannon told us how much fun it was to teach – the kids especially loved the pose when you are on your back like a turtle and can spin around.  “The children are so lively and animated; it was perfect energy for the class.” Volunteer counselor Paula said, “the kids were no work almost, they were well behaved, they respected you and they made you laugh a lot.  The best part was to see the kids happy, having fun, being grateful.”

Click on the image below to hear Maxi playing in Hugo’s drumming class. 

Leave a Reply