NEAT Stories

Volunteer Opportunity: Nueva Esperanza Preschool

Immigrant Preschool Looking for Volunteers

Born out of an Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity NEAT (Nueva Esperanza Accompaniment Team) in 2015, the Nueva Esperanza Sunday Preschool uniquely serves children from the indigenous Mam culture from Guatemala, ages 3-5 years. Volunteers prepare the children to learn English and enter kindergarten by engaging the children through play, art, story time. The volunteers want the children to feel loved and welcomed while applauding the fact that they are quickly becoming trilingual. Nueva Esperanza Preschool is currently in need of volunteers to keep this preschool thriving. If you would like to volunteer at least one Sunday a month, from 3-5 in the Fruitvale District of Oakland, CA, please email Mirtha Ninayahuar (a former NEAT team member!) at

About Nueva Esperanza (New Hope) Sunday Preschool 

Nueva Esperanza Sunday Preschool in the Fruitvale District of Oakland, CA works to prepare children from the indigenous Guatemalan Mam culture, ages 3-5, to enter U.S. schools at the Kindergarten/First Grade level with at least average levels of expected knowledge that will enable them to receive and benefit from the curriculum in kindergarten. 

The preschool volunteers work with the children on the English language, early literacy concepts, early math concepts, and names of colors and shapes. We have story time, music activities led by a music teacher, as well as playtime and art. We provide healthful snacks, toothbrush kits, books and book bags. Our graduating children receive backpacks with school supplies. 

Our purpose is to engage with the children to show them that they are loved and welcomed and applaud the fact that they are quickly becoming trilingual.

The preschool meets every Sunday from 3-5 at the Iglesia de Dios (Church of God) at 4500 International Blvd.

Financial Support

In 2015 the Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity’s, Reverend Deborah Lee; First Congregational Church of Berkley member, Dr. Victoria Purcell- Gates; Skyline Community Church Co-chair of Justice & Witness, Mirtha Ninayahuar; and Iglesia de Dios Pastor, Adolfo Gomez, applied for and received a Rainin Foundation grant focused on supporting language and literacy development for Oakland’s children 0-5 years old at places of worship.

The First Congregational Church of Berkeley provides funds for preschool supplies. In 2019, the United Church of Christ and the United Lutheran Church of Oakland awarded grants to the preschool. Donations in the form of school supplies and snacks are also received from the faith community and volunteers.

Accompaniment NEAT Stories

A Sincere Thank You: Enard and Gisela, Sha’ar Zahav, Kehilla, and Keneset HaLev

Enard, Gisela, and their team lead and their team translator

Teams from Congregation Sha’ar Zahav, Kehilla Community Synagogue, Keneset HaLev met at our NEAT ccompaniment training, and enthusiastically joined together to create a complete team. During just one month of accompaniment, they worked together to accomplish so much! The two children have enrolled in school, parents have found full-time work, and been connected to local clothing and food banks. Their congregations has been instrumental in finding emergency hospitality housing as a congregation member stepped up and shared her home with the family for three weeks over Thanksgiving. Without her generosity, this family would have spent their meal in a shelter. One team member reflected: while the team members are walking alongside the family, they do so “with backing, warmth, and enthusiasm as part of a larger congregational community…help is ready and waiting with fundraising, donating, inviting the family to activities, connecting with resources” and cultural exchange. As Jewish congregations walking together with a Christian family, they are all growing richly as they learn from and experience life with each other.

When the six months of the NEAT program concluded, Enard, a skilled photographer and graphic designer, created this “Thank You Letter” to share his gratitude.

Enard and his family have been accompanied by a team from Congregation Sha’ar Zahav, Kehilla Community Synagogue, and Keneset HaLev since November, 2019. Enard is a skilled photographer and graphic designer, and he created this “Thank You Letter” to share his gratitude.


Translation: Hello, my name is Enard. I’m Honduran by birth and I currently reside in San Francisco. A year ago, I found myself needing to leave my country with my wife Gissela, my 14 year old daughter Ximena, and my son Andree, 10 years old. For me and my family it has been very difficult to leave behind everything we had (which we had achieved with great sacrifice during our 15 years together) to save ourselves from being extorted, and after our lives were threatened by gangs and corrupt police. We left everything behind to come to the United States to seek asylum. The beginning of trying to start a new life in another country has been very difficult due to different customs, lack of knowledge, language barriers that we faced. In another country, the simplest task can become a challenge. Processing papers, finding the right word, knowing which bus to take, how to find work. There were always moments of despair and anguish because we had nowhere to live, to eat, and we didn’t have a job. But, we found a light on our way when we found the Nueva Esperanza which has given us great unconditional support. We have a great team who has taught us that being an undocumented asylum seeker is not that difficult. So I am grateful to the angels that GOD has put in our way. Thanks for giving us a roof over our heads, and most importantly, thanks for giving us a New Hope to Live.

They created this video together to obtain a grant to support their congregation’s involvement in immigrant advocacy.
Enard, Gisela, and their family in San Francisco

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

Accompaniment NEAT Stories

The Power of NEAT Community: Alex, Amy, and Calvary Presbyterian

As a part of their faith, Calvary Presbyterian Church in San Francisco wanted to make sure immigrants in the community knew they were welcome. After hanging an “Immigrants and Refugees Welcome” banner over their entrance, they began noticing person after person coming through their doors. Alex had recently arrived from Honduras with his son, and noticed the banner one day while he was working as a school janitor across the street. He immediately connected to their Sanctuary team, and accompaniment began.

A Calvary team member accompanies Amy and her daughter the day they moved in to their new apartment

Alex’s hopeful spirit guided their path as they accompanied each other to attend court dates, enroll his son in school, and connect to community resources. He always made decisions with the assured confidence that the rest of his family would join him soon.

His faith became reality when his wife Amy and three children arrived here in December after eight months of waiting in Mexico due to the Remain in Mexico policy. Overjoyed, their reunification came with the challenge of finding affordable housing for six in one of the most expensive cities in the world. The best they could find was a $2500/month studio, and signed the lease as a last resort.

By a set of divine provisions a generous individual came forward through the San Francisco Interfaith Coalition on Immigration (SFICI). The family was offered a lease an in-law unit for $1000/month. Within a week they were released from their previously signed lease, a congregant offered to co-sign at the new place, and Alex and his family moved into their newly affordable, spacious home.

HURRAH for Alex’s unwavering faith and the power of the IM4HI community!

After connecting Alex to legal resources and months of waiting and praying, Calvary team members joined together with Alex and his children in the church to welcome his wife, Amy, the day she arrived from Honduras
Amy and her children settled in to their new apartment after Calvary assisted their connection to the landlord

Living Sanctuary at Calvary: Learn more about how Calvary became a sanctuary church and accompanied Alex and his family on the Calvary website. The congregation has created a video about their experience: “Calvary Answers a Knock at the Door.”

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