Accompaniment NEAT Stories

Welcoming Asylum Seekers From Ukraine

Through the Nueva Esperanza Accompaniment Team (NEAT) program, your support of IM4HI has helped ease the transition for 269 newly arrived immigrants fleeing war, climate change, and instability from countries all around the world.

Your support helps people like Kate and Alex, from Ukraine, gain footing and heal after fleeing the ongoing violence and devastation of war.

Kate and Alex speak at Sherith Israel, Feb 2023

Kate reached out to IM4HI while she and her husband were still in Europe, urgently seeking contacts and support in the U.S. We were able to match them with St. Mary the Virgin and Sherith Israel congregations, who agreed to accompany them upon arrival. Kate shares that knowing trustworthy people would be there to receive them meant all the world, helping them feel less alone and alleviating some of the stress and trauma as they fled their home country. 

As they continue settling in and rebuilding their lives, Kate shares her gratitude: “St. Mary the Virgin and Sherith Israel have been helping us for over six months. They helped us to find and partly sponsored a wonderful, cozy, and bright apartment, found an immigration lawyer, taught us English, helped us with knowledge and advice, and involved us in all activities so that we would be fully integrated into American society. We are the lucky ones because all the holidays in the USA we now celebrate together. The most important thing is that I know for sure that each of the members of the group sincerely worries about us. And today I can say with confidence that they are our second family here in the United States.”

As faith communities we have welcomed families that have had to  flee war, violence, and economic instability from all over the world, including Haiti, Nigeria, Ghana, the Philippines, Afghanistan, Laos, Honduras, Nicaragua, Cambodia, Guatemala, Mexico, and El Salvador, among others.

Alex sharing about his experience fleeing Ukraine, 2022
Accompaniment NEAT Stories

San Francisco Interfaith Council hosts Nueva Esperanza Accompaniment Team (NEAT) Program

Video – “How Congregations Can Support Newly Arrived Asylum Seekers in San Francisco” – by IM4HI NEAT

The San Francisco Interfaith Council (SFIC) 94th Online Briefing for Community and Faith Partners welcomed Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity’s Nueva Esperanza Accompaniment Team (NEAT) Program Manager Kelly Younger, who offered an overview of her organization’s important work, the danger of exploiting unknowing immigrants for political gain, and practical ways in which San Francisco congregations can support newly arrived asylum seekers.

Also participating were Zoom Briefing Moderator/SFIC Executive Director Michael Pappas, Congregation Sha’ar Zahav Rabbi Mychal Copeland, San Francisco Office of Civic Engagement and Immigrant Affairs (OCEIA) Deputy Director Richard Whipple and Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity (NEAT) Program Coordinator Nadia Tavera Medina.

Additional Resources:

NEAT Stories

Local Leadership during COVID: Gregorio’s Story

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.

Gregorio distributing donations during COVID to his community living in R.V.’s