News for Amigos de Casa San Jose: June, 2022

Thank you to our sponsors, guests, and donors for making our fourth annual Fiesta del Sol on June 17 a great success! The spirited celebration held at the Circuit Center Ballroom featured a buffet dinner catered by The Fluted Mushroom, raffle baskets, and music by the Diamante Trio with Lilly Abreu, and DJ Beto de María. A special thanks to everyone who bought raffle tickets online in support of our efforts. Proceeds from the evening benefit programs and services for our Latino community.

We are also grateful to all the talented bakers who contributed a variety of delicious cookies for our Fiesta del Sol cookie table (enough to fill three tables)!  One guest said that it was the best cookie table display she had ever seen.

See the article and video of our Fiesta del Sol event in the Post-Gazette SEEN column here.

Finding Kindness and a New Start 

A traffic accident when he was just two years old left 44-year-old Andrés in a wheelchair, but that didn’t stop him from keeping a positive attitude and pursuing his life goals. A native of Columbia, Andrés served as a teacher in the Ministry of Education Department in Caldas. He and his family were forced to leave their home country after Columbian guerrilla groups put their lives in danger. They made their way to Mexico last March seeking asylum and gained entry to the US through the help of an immigration agency. After arriving in Pittsburgh, Andrés and his wife found help at Casa San Jose. Casa’s staff assisted them in enrolling their two children in school, scheduling pediatric appointments, finding affordable housing, navigating work permits, and connecting to legal and medical services. The family also received basic necessities, including groceries, coats, and other household supplies to help them start their new life here.Andrés expressed his gratitude for the kindness and support from Casa San Jose’s staff and community members. In a letter to Casa’s Emergency Case Worker, Dora Tenjo, he wrote:“Our feelings of gratitude go to Casa San José, BTOS Kitchen and Latinos in Pittsburgh for their advice, calls, and interest in how we are doing and their words of encouragement. Many thanks for the trust placed in our family…in just three months, we have managed to consolidate alliances with the Latino community and other Americans, achieving the peace and tranquility that is longed for in many of our home countries. I share with you that the result of being disciplined with the guidelines and suggestions have allowed me to have a place to live, get the required vaccines for school admission of my children, find legal representation, and use our time to generate income while we are granted work authorization. A thousand thanks to all the wonderful people who have left their mark on our path.”
Survivors Speak

Approximately 25 Casa community members traveled to Harrisburg on June 7 to participate in the first Survivors Speak PA 2022 event in support of victims of violent crimes. Participants were invited to share stories, honor loved ones and advocate for a smart safety policy. The group also had the opportunity to meet President Joe Biden’s daughter, Ashley Biden, a social worker who leads a justice center in Delaware. Other activities included a healing vigil walk and the chance to participate in massage, dance, and art therapy.“For our community, this was an opportunity to bring people who have suffered from violence together and let them know that they are not alone,” says Jenny P. Diaz, Health Promotion Specialist of Casa San Jose.
Casita and Summer Camps

Casa San Jose’s school mentoring program, Casita, is off to a great start in its initial year, serving 90 area Latino students in Allegheny County. The program will restart in the fall with plans to add more schools and reach more Latino youth.Our summer camps are filled to capacity with 31 students at our Beechview location and 28 students at our East Liberty site. Casa is collaborating with Positive Painting, and ARYSE to bring fun and educational activities to our youth. Other highlights include scheduled field trips to the Moore and Highland Park Pools, PA Trolley Museum, Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Science Center, and the Carnegie Museum of Art.Volunteer opportunities are still available for our East Liberty summer camp. For more information, please contact Teresa Parra,Youth Programs Director, at teresap@casasanjose.org.
Staff members of Casa San Jose and Latino community members at 3000 Sidney Street. Ph: KDKA
Petition to Reopen PGH Immigration Court

Casa San Jose staff, volunteers and community members gathered on June 10 to petition the Department of Justice Office of Immigration to reopen the Pittsburgh court. The court closed its local office in late April, leaving about 2,000 area residents scrambling to complete their immigration proceedings in a Philadelphia court or virtually. Both options create hardships.In one local news interview, Casa San Jose’s Emergency Response Organizer Laura Perkins said, “Unfortunately, a lot of people that have to miss one or two days of work (to travel) get fired,” she said. “Casa helps people with their internet bills but not only is it hard to make monthly payments, their internet connection often doesn’t work.”A petition in support of our efforts to reopen the Pittsburgh court already has more than 400 signatures. Add your name to the petition here.

On July 9th, 2022 we are going to Berks County in support of women detained in the ICE detention facility, Condado de Berks. If you’d like to join us, we will be leaving Pittsburgh at 9:00 a.m. for a peaceful protest in Berks County at 2:00 p.m. For more information, contact Billy Reeves, Casa’s Community Policy Organizer, at billy@casasanjose.org or call (914) 564.6206.

  • Casa San Jose recently welcomed Mónica Andrea Herrera Garcés to the staff in the position of ISAC Bilingual Navigator. She is originally from Columbia where she received her degree in Business Administration. In 2015, Andrea moved to Pittsburgh and took additional courses in English and Business at CCAC. She later served in an internship, working with international students. In her new role, Andrea is eager to help Latinos connect with available resources so they can better adjust to their new home. 
  • Read about our May and June Volunteers of the Month here.

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