Accompaniment NEAT Stories Updates

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.

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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
Accompaniment NEAT Stories

Accompanying family here and abroad: Marvin and Indira

Marvin, Indira and their family together at our 2020 NEAT Potluck Celebration

With Nueva Esperanza (NEAT) accompaniment by Congregation B’nai Tikvah and Temple Isaiah of Contra Costa County, Marvin, Indira, and their family have reached their goals to enroll their daughter in school, find legal assistance, and start employment.

Recently, Marvin’s sister was diagnosed with cancer and he asked the congregations accompanying him if they could help fundraise for her treatment. Please read their GoFundMe to hear their story and share to raise funds!

Help Glenda Aguilera Espinoza fight her cancer in Nicaragua. The government of Nicaragua is cracking down on any dissent from its citizens. Anyone speaking out against government repression can face violent punishment and even death. Glenda’s brother and his family have fled Nicaragua and have been granted entry to the United States to pursue an asylum claim. But the family that remains in Nicaragua is very poor and the family now in the United States is barely getting by and so has little extra money to send home to help Glenda with her cancer treatment… [read more]

Learn more about Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity’s Nueva Esperanza Accompaniment Team program.