Like so many immigrants in the community, Gregorio found himself without work when COVID-19 hit. His NEAT team from Unitarian Universalist Church of Palo Alto (UUCPA) asked their congregation to offer him work opportunities until his regular work resumed. They also recorded Gregorio telling his story and shared parts of the video to introduce him to the congregation during the minister’s sermon on the root causes of climate change on immigration. He shared the effect on his family of drought and severe storms in Central America caused by climate disruption, and the forced need to migrate to survive.
Since Gregorio and his daughter live in an RV, the team also supported Gregorio by joining with community groups to pressure the City to open a designated Safe Parking area. The City finally opened such a place, and Gregorio was among the first to be able to move there. This way, he no longer has to move his vehicle every 72-hours to avoid $100 fines. He also acquired solar panels, so they now have electricity to operate the microwave and the refrigerator in the RV.
Gregorio has taken on a leadership role with the Reach Potential Movement, distributing food donations to fellow RV residents in the Safe Parking area. He was even featured in a San Jose Mercury News article.
This is what accompaniment is all about: working with recently arrived immigrants to lift up their stories and connect them to resources, so that they, in turn, can accompany those around them.